According to an ESPN Sports Poll, Tim Tebow is now America’s favorite active pro athlete. Keep this in mind as you read this article.
In the interest of full discloser, I was rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Denver Broncos. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and grew up following the once acclaimed Pirates and once dismal Steelers. The 1960 World Series is in the life blood of everyone in Pittsburgh who was alive when Bill Mazeroski hit a walk-off homerun in the ninth inning of the seventh game to beat the Yankees 4 games to 3.
The Steelers during this time were not a successful franchise. It wasn’t until Terry Bradshaw quarterbacked the team to four Super Bowl wins that the reputation of the Steelers soared.
So it was with sadness that I read that the Broncos beat the Steelers 29 to 23.
At the same time, I am a big Tebow fan. It’s not just because he’s a Christian. I like him because he’s not ostentatious about it. The media have made an issue of his religious beliefs and magnified them where he has not. Here’s one example:
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has seemingly made himself the poster boy for Christianity, praying on the field after a win, putting Bible verses on his eye black during games and even starring in an anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl.
You would really have to zoom in on the eye-black to see John 3:16. Many players are plastered with tattoos, have dread locks streaming out of their helmets, and long hair that has religious significance for some.
Sandy Koufax, who pitched for 12 seasons with the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (1955–1966), was praised for honoring his Jewish heritage by not playing on Yom Kippur. Consider the following:
Koufax is also remembered as one of the outstanding Jewish athletes in American sports. His decision not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because it fell on Yom Kippur garnered national attention as an example of conflict between social pressures and personal beliefs.
Koufax went on to pitch in games 2, 5, and 7 and ended up as the series MVP.
Muhammad Ali made numerous public pronouncements about his Nation of Islam conversion and made it part of his sports career.
The film Chariots of Fire (1981), nominated for seven Academy Awards and winning four, including Best Picture, was about the very Christian and outspoken Eric Liddell. Similar to Koufax, Liddell made it clear that he would not compete in the 100 meters in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris if it meant he had to run on Sunday.1 Liddell used his notoriety as a world-class athlete as a platform to preach the gospel. Like Tebow, it was never “in your face.”
Now we learn that the New Jersey based American Atheists claims “that the only reason Tebow is popular is because he constantly injects his Christianity among the public.” Why do the American Atheists care and say nothing when some baseball players often use the sign of the cross in full view of the TV cameras? If they believe there is no God, why are they calling attention to Tebow and his Christian faith?
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, believes “Tebow is ‘full of crap’ when he publically displays his Christianity on the football field, and said his prayers are for publicity.’” And what’s Mr. Silverman doing? He’s using Tebow to drum up publicity for his tiny atheist organization.
Christianity is all about publicity. Christians are not to hide their light under a bushel (Matt. 5:14–16). If public displays of the Christian faith were not part of the biblical message, as Silverman maintains they should be, then why were some early Christians put to death? Like the atheists of today, oppressive regimes don’t care about private beliefs. China doesn’t give a tinker’s dam about what people believe. It’s their public displays of Christianity that Chinese officials want suppressed.
All the negative publicity about Tebow and his Christian faith are not his doing. The fans don’t seem to mind since the NFL said that the Broncos-Steelers playoff game was the most watched game of the season. Here’s how NBC reported the story:
[The] Steelers-Broncos game was a monster on television: It drew 42.4 million viewers, which makes it the most-watched program on all of American television since Super Bowl XLV. More people watched Steelers-Broncos than the Academy Awards, or the American Idol final, or Charlie Sheen’s funeral on Two and a Half Men, or anything else since the end of last football season.
Take that, American Atheists!
- The film shows Liddell learning about the Sunday heat on the ship to Paris. Actually, the schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400 metres, though his best time of 49.6 seconds, set in winning the 1924 AAA championship 440 yards, was modest by international standards. [↩]