*We are excited to have another male blogger post by my dear friend Sachin (so this is NOT a Sabadabadooo post, but rather me presenting my friend’s post). Sachin gives a reflection of his namesake in this post (well, not really, more like an “after he was born and had a namesake created”) through a look at the career of two athletes: Tim Tebow and Sachin Tendulkar. Don’t worry, Sachin – I believe you are living your name out wonderfully :).
Full disclosure: I’m a run-of-the-mill football fan. I don’t know all of the names of players and their shoe sizes, but I do like to see my teams do well. There are a lot of great NFL story lines out there this year, but then there’s Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos…
Full disclosure: I don’t know a damn thing about cricket other than I share the same name as the god of cricket – Sachin Tendulkar. I tried to play it once when I was in India and got laughed at by an entire community of 11 year olds who said I should change my name because I suck so bad. Anyway, I know enough about Tendulkar, however, to know that everything he touches turns to cricket gold. And I mean EVERYTHING.
As I’ve watched my share of football this season, I’ve never seen as much of a transformation (football fan or not) in general society as when the name of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is brought up. He’s just a normal white dude from a normal white family from an overrated university, right? Or so we thought.
For the past 4 weeks or so, I have forced myself to somehow watch the second half of every Denver Broncos game. They are typically atrocious for the first three quarters of the game and then some magic (or divine intervention as we find out) occurs – people call it the intervention of Tebow – and they win the game.
Let’s be clear – Tebow is statistically one of the worst quarterbacks in NFL history. BUT he wins.
Those games that I force myself to watch are pretty bad. The Broncos are getting beat, Tebow is horrendous for 50 minutes and is playing like a high school quarterback, and his coach looks like he is going to kill him.
Yet I believed Denver would win.
I have no idea. And I wasn’t even quite sure how I felt about believing he would win these games, knowing that any other team with that type of quarterback would lose those games – and probably lose his job.
And here in lies the issue. In reality, Tim Tebow by all accounts is a good kid who just happens to be an extremely devout Christian and is pro-life (among other things, but that’s not really the point). That’s it. No more no less. An average football player who is getting blasted in the media, blasted by NFL fans (outside of Colorado), and blasted by those who really don’t understand (or like) that he is a Christian and who only plays well for the last 6 minutes of the game – and wins.
During his college football career at the University of Florida, Tebow frequently wrote biblical verses under his eye in black during football games. In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, he wore John 3:16 on his eye paint, and as a result, 92 million people searched “John 3:16” on Google during or shortly after the game. In another game when Tebow switched to another verse, there were 3.43 million searches of “Tim Tebow” and “Proverbs 3:5-6” together. Amazing.
An individual (not even a professional at that point in his life) having such a profound “Christian” effect on a nation of football crazy fans is itself astounding and eerie all at the same time. Especially because fans think that football itself IS the religion.
He is surprisingly one of the most complicated, strange, and polarizing athletes of our age. Sports analysts say that he “wills” his team to win close games even if he plain sucked. Others say that there is no room for religion in football and it isn’t good for the sport.
I say we’re missing the point.
This is one of the most intriguing situations of our nation’s time precisely because of the state of flux we are in – both economically and otherwise.
Let’s see…an extremely devout Christian professional football player is “willing” his team to win in a country hit hard by an economic downturn and where religious polarity is on the rise. Tebow fits right in.
But what if Sachin Tendulkar did the same thing while playing on all of those successful Indian cricket teams?
What if he wrote versus from the Bhagavad Gita under his eye? How many zillions of Google searches would he get?
After all, he is the best cricketeer in the world playing in a sport that is more global than football, right? Would he get the same polarizing reaction as Tebow? Would sports analyst be talking about Sachin’s “faith willing him to win” or his double century he got last night? Would he be just as ridiculed as Tebow for even introducing his faith into his sport?
The answer is OF COURSE he would get lambasted. But the difference is that Sachin Tendulkar wouldn’t have even thought of doing those things for several reasons (not the least of which is that religion is a different beast in India that it is in America).
Let’s be clear:
(1) Tim Tebow is NO Sachin Tendulkar. He’s not even on the same planet – which makes this Tebow phenomenon even crazier.
(2) Polarizing isn’t even the right word when it comes to religion in India.
(3) For better or for worse – sports analysis in America goes WAY beyond sports.
The point here is not the religion itself or whether what Tebow has done would work in other countries. The point here is the insecurities religion brings out in others. And with Tebow, insecurities lay all over the place with fans and foes alike. There is an illogical but warm feeling that keeps coming out.
In the United States at the moment, there is a sense of rightness, however emotionally unsatisfying, that confirms our values of how things SHOULD be done. Sports fans who love statistics fall into this camp. As a celebrity or athlete, bringing faith into the public eye is a difficult thing to get across to mass society. Tebow has transcended that entire notion and makes blind faith a viable option – even in FOOTBALL.
Chuck Klosterman said it best:
Tebow’s faith in God, his followers’ faith in him — it all defies modernity. This is why people care so much. He is making people wonder if they should try to believe things they don’t actually believe.
I need to go learn how to play cricket now and earn my name back.