Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Quest for the Perfect Hero

   This evening I will be watching the New England Patriots play the Denver Broncos in an NFL playoff game. I will be rooting for the Patriots. After all, I am originally from New England.  This is not a sports blog so I will say nothing more about the game itself.  I am writing because of the attention drawn to Denver quarterback, Tim Tebow.

   By all accounts Mr. Tebow is an outstanding human being off the filed and a devout practicing Christian at all times.  I wish that there were more Tim Tebows among professional athletes.  What is at issue is not Tebow himself but the way that the nation and the media are reacting to  him.  For one thing he is not the only devout practicing Christian professional athlete. Troy Polamalu, a defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, fits into that category even though he doesn't look the part and there are many others.

   Tebow has a great deal of athletic ability but even though he has had his spectacular moments at times, including a game winning touchdown pass last week, he is at best, right now, a mediocre quarterback with a unique playing style.  So why the reaction to him? Why has he become in some opinion polls the most popular professional athlete in the country?  I think that the answer lies in the public's desire to have the perfect hero contrasted with the desire of some to wait for the hero to fail.

   There are unfortunately today some people who hate religion and religious practice.  Many in this crowd delight in Tebow's moments of failure.  There are others who admire him so much that they are blind to the facts.  They place him alongside the elite athletes in sports, a place he has not yet earned, and some even think that God guides the football every time that he touches it.

   After seeing report after report of scandals among athletes and other public figures whom we thought to be heroes we want to have the perfect hero, the one who lives a virtuous life and who excels in every way in all endeavors.  That person is hard to find.  In fairness to Tim Tebow let us simply applaud him for being a fine Christian and a fine human being. Let us wish him the best on the playing filed, but let us assess his talent for what it is and is not.  Most importantly let us teach our kids to emulate his behavior rather than that of others who may have more athletic accomplishments.

   For a great reflection on God, Tebow and prayer in general check out this YouTube video by Fr. James, Martin, SJ, culture editor of America Magazine   Fr. James, Martin, SJ


  1. Very, very well written, and a fresh viewpoint.
    Thank you for that!

  2. Ability and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ don't always go hand in hand nor are they mutually exclusive. All Christians want to believe that we are guided and protected by The Lord as we travel through life. It is genuinely refreshing to hear any professional athlete attribute whatever talent he has to The Lord. Far better than the arrogance that is so prevalent in professional sports these days. Very well said Father John. Happy New Year. jamo