I’ve kind of been wondering – and worrying about – when this day would come. I’ve rehearsed what I would say and how to delicately word my position on the subject. I even practiced my stern posture. I just never thought it would be something I’d approve of. I guess I never gave much thought to the fact that I might actually be proud that my children were copying something they saw a celebrity doing, which makes sense, considering that most celebrities do foolish things. You forget that there are the other kinds, the ones who use their celebrity to do good.
Until one of my four-year-olds reminded me.
Jack wanted to show me his “new move.” And like all new moves, this one had a finale. It was elaborate, this move, so it took a few minutes and came with some grunts, start-overs and re-dos, and then finally the finale. After the somersault-into-standing-position, Jack tilted his head skyward and pointed his fingers up into the air.
When I asked where he learned the finger pointing, he shrugged and said he saw the football player do it, “You know Mom, the guy who beat the Bears.”
Tebow is the Denver Broncos’ quarterback who has garnered a lot of attention for his unconventional take on the position as well as his very earnest and public displays of faith.
Considering the bevy of badboys to choose from, the fact that I was surprised my son gravitated toward someone with a sincere appreciation of his faith and the humility to show it saddened me. It did so because, much in the same way football analysts underestimate Tebow’s ability, we as a culture are underestimating our own goodness, just as I did. We get so bogged down in the reality-show subculture, that we don’t just become desensitized to the bad, but the good becomes foreign to us as well.
Take, for example, the former Giants’ wide receiver who brandished a handgun in a crowded New York nightclub and – after shooting himself in the leg – would up going to prison. And we all know about Michael Vick, the dog beater who was convicted on animal cruelty and racketeering charges. But there’s the lesser-known story of Leonard Little, the St. Louis defensive player who was responsible for a woman’s death in 1998. She was a daughter. A wife. A mother. And she died because Little was too drunk to drive, and too stubborn to turn his keys over to someone else. He received four years probation, and he was just recently arrested again for another DWI.
And all the sports pundits and political analysts are in a dither over the fact that Tebow mentions God in post-game interviews.
Do a quick Internet search on Little, and you get links to statistics and fun pictures of the defensive end. Not one mention of the manslaughter charge until the second page of search results. Do the same for Tebow, the same statistic pages pop up, but they are surrounded by discussion pages – including sometimes downright vicious remarks – of the religious controversy.
Of course Jack channeling Tebow in his “move” had less to do with politics and spirituality than it did with the fact that he happens to be a topic of conversation in our house after the Broncos made yet another fourth-quarter comeback to beat our Bears. But it’s still refreshing that there are positive role models out there, filtering through our TV sets and newspapers. And that’s something that this mother is more than happy to encourage, even at the expense of her own football team.
This column was originally published in the December 21, 2011 edition of the St. Maries Gazette Record.