Leonard Pitts Jr. wonders how Tim Tebow’s Christianity became such a source of national fascination, in his column, “Public Faith Vs. Private Faith:”
In the history of pro sports, men have done all sorts of things to commemorate their feats on the field or the court. They have flopped like seals, walked like gorillas, head-butted like bighorn sheep. They have high-fived, low-fived, dog-piled, chest-bumped, wept, kissed their own biceps. They have breakdanced, riverdanced, jitterbugged and otherwise tripped the light fantastic.
Yet Tim Tebow becomes a figure of national fascination, consternation and controversy because he takes a knee and bows his head in a gesture of Christian faith?
The latest example of the enduring interest in that ritual came Saturday on the “NFL Honors” program on NBC as host Alec Baldwin imitated the quarterback’s signature pose. Baldwin’s mimicry was a gentle poke in the ribs — Tebow, who was in the audience, even came onstage to help him get it right — but not all the commentary has been so mild. Many of the professionally snide — like “Comedy Central’s” Daniel Tosh, and the inexplicably self-satisfied Bill Maher — have been notably vicious in their lambasting of the Denver Broncos playmaker. (“Jesus just — expletive — Tim Tebow bad,” tweeted Maher after a Broncos loss.)
It is amusing to imagine the outrage those same folks would (rightly) spew if some Muslim player were attacked by the Christian right for genuflecting to Allah during the game. Many in this country — perhaps more accurately, many in the media — seem nonplussed and discomfited by any expression of faith. Penis jokes are fine and grisly violence is still as American as apple pie, but God talk makes people nervous. That speaks volumes.