God's Role in Sports

God's Role in Sports

The first thing that Tim Tebow did when he gave his postgame remarks after stunning the Chicago Bears with yet another of his fourth quarter comebacks, was to thank his "Lord and savior, Jesus Christ."  Then he went on to thank his coaches for the opportunity and his teammates for their efforts.  If you are religious, you love it.  If you believe strongly in separation of church and state, or in this case, church and stadium, you are offended.

If you think about it, other than bringing his personal beliefs into the equation, he did nothing wrong.  He is thanking a higher power for blessing him with the skills to play on Sundays.  But as he noted, the rest was up to him and his teammates.

I have more of a problem with an athlete who goes on and on about "all glory to God..." and then does something very un-God-ike in his private life.  From what I hear, Tebow talks the talk and walks the walk.

God doesn't have a favorite team.  If that were the case, Notre Dame would win the BCS every year.  He just reaches out from time to time, and does whatever deities do to bequeath superior arm strength, lightning speed, quick reflexes, or six-foot eight inches in height.  The athlete to be gets the raw materials. The rest is up to the individual to make the most of these gifts.  Dean Smith once famously said, "You can't teach height."

Len Bias was one of the most amazing college basketball players I had ever seen. Yes, I saw him play in person when I was in college.  He was a player who could leap into the air with three players in front of him and hit nothing but net from nineteen feet away, without even looking at the basket.  Then he made some stupid decisions, and paid the ultimate price for that.

It probably would sound pretty funny if every time an all pro athlete thanked an old coach, or invoked his parents names before a press conference.  Instead some of these athletes choose to thank the higher power.

I don't have a problem with that, as long as they practice what they preach, and realize how they got to where they are today.


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  • Tim Tebow is the only professional athlete I wouldn't mind my girlfriend cheating on me with. I might even encourage her to do it.

  • What can be wrong with an attitude of gratitude? The self- congratulation after a touchdown is often very unappealing. I heard an interview with an old-timer Bear player, now in a retirement home. He remarked on the fact that the players now don't depend on their fans for accolades- they give it to themselves! We have to endure the press when a football player kills dogs for money, fails yet another drug test, ruins his life with many kinds of felonies. No, the Lord may not have a favorite football team. And you may have coined a new weapon- like phrase, "the seperation of church and stadium." But the truth is, many of the best athletes have a strong faith. They give an indication, after a great play, that they are mindful that their talents are innate, their health is truly a gift, that there was help from family and coaches along the way to get them where they are today. A man showing that he's thankful for those multiple blessings is a good man!

  • To tell the truth it makes me sick. God could care less who wins a football game. I don't care what anyone believe in it just when people like tebow beat you over the head with it. It comes off as narcissistic.

  • I'm an atheist who is fine with whosis here thanking his imaginary sky buddy. This has nothing to do with me and he's not running for office, right?

  • "If you believe strongly in separation of church and state...you are offended." Jump to conclusions about other people's values, much? I believe strongly in separation of church and state, yet I have no problem with him thanking God. As IrishMary pointed out, an attitude of gratitude is a good thing, and not all people who believe in separation of church and state want to remove God from their daily lives. I won't even re-quote your insert of stadium, because it's simply a child's argument. And as Evan Moore states, God doesn't care who wins a game. True, but God does want us to do our best, and praise him for allowing us to be our best.
    And Cheryl wisely pointed out that as long as it doesn't affect her, then who cares?
    From the article, "If you think about it, other than bringing his personal beliefs into the equation, he did nothing wrong." What is wrong about bringing his personal beliefs into the equation? As humans, we do that in every situation that is presented before us.
    This is most certainly one of those situations where the comments are much more insightful and eloquent than the article. Oops - I mean blog.

  • I know people who think religion is a very "personal" thing and don't believe it has a place in such a "public" institution such as a football.
    I've covered hundreds of athletes over the past 20 years. I can't ever recall Michael Jordan thanking anyone other than his teammates, his family, and the fans. But I know for a fact that he had religion in his upbringing. And we know he is one of the greatest basketball players who ever lived. If anyone had received the divine gift, it is MJ.

  • In reply to Steven Leventhal:

    Evidently Steven you believe that religion has not place anywhere. I've always said that "Religion not worth living, is religion not worth having." If I knew where you could get a million dollars would I be remiss in not telling you? Many have searched for the "fountain of youth," but only a few have found the truth.

  • In reply to jmgrossoehme:

    How do you know what I believe in? At no point in this commentary/blog/thought piece have I stated what my personal beliefs are, other than my comment that I'm ok with Tebow if he "talks the talk" so long as he "walks the walk." But since you want to know, I'll tell you.

    I feel strongly that religion is a very, very personal thing. I believe that religion should be practiced in the home and at one's house of worship. I do not like the fact that people feel compelled to publicly acknowledge their faith, but have come to terms with that we live in a society where it's acceptable to offer your faith to others whether they like it or not.

    I've had people tell me to my face that I'm going to hell, because I don't believe in Jesus. Is that fair?

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    Tim Tebow is a Christian 24 hours a day/7 days a week. I have no problem with his thanking God. He is someone kids can actually look up to. What could be so bad with that in today's world?

  • "I can't ever recall Michael Jordan thanking anyone other than his teammates, his family, and the fans."
    So what? That doesn't mean that MJ's way is the only way. What is your actual point? Is it that religion doesn't belong in sports? If so, say that. Is it that Tim Tebow shouldn't be thanking God when he does well? If so, say that. You've haven't actually said anything solid enough to be a foundation for a debate. The only strong statement you made is the one with which I originally disagreed: "If you believe strongly in separation of church and state, or in this case, church and stadium, you are offended."
    Don't make blanket statements that try to generalize an entire demographic. Some of us are just not that linear.

  • To each their own, as long as they accept me for what I believe. By-the-way I am also a Christian 24/7 but I don't pray to God every time something happens. Being an agnostic may have something to do with that. Let's see what happens when he loses a game.

  • People who thank their God after a sporting event are nauseating. I do not understand the media interviewing Tebow when they know what he will say.

  • @RESUMAYDAY " What is your actual point? Is it that religion doesn't belong in sports?"
    The opposite, namely that religion doesn't have to belong there. As these comments can attest, religion is a very personal thing to many. (dagumpster)
    Some athletes kneel in prayer before games, after games, and if they are fortunate, after scoring
    ...and by the way, you are entirely right in referring to the piece as a blog. It was a short missive. I did no research, nor quoted from anything other than memory.
    But I do love the discussion it has generated.

  • A friend sent me this YouTube video with a Tom Petty inspired song about Tebow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J56R_s5FPfA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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    I am a Christian but Tim Tebow is wrong in thanking God publically. First, Jesus said God is no respecter of man. The Almighty passed out the gift of athletic prowness to a great many people and when teams meet and engage, the winner is determined by which team employed the best use of that gift, not God. Second, Jesus said for us to go to a secret place and there thank our Heavenly Father in secret who would reward us publically. Mr Tebow and several entertainers have made that mistake over the years, thanking God OUTLOUD. Maybe they don't know their Bible that well. A little error in following Jesus.

  • In reply to Jack West:

    I guess you should hide your faith under a basket. Go read Matthew 5:13-16.

  • Funny, that whenever a Christian speaks about his faith he is criticized for it. I don't recall ANYONE ever criticizing Muhammed Ali for praising the Moon god (Allah, Islam) in public. No, this is a very anti-Christian society now. It is okay to praise anyone else or any other god, just don't talk about Jesus. Above, you mention "separation of church and state"- so I guess that football is now a "state" event, or is it that sharing your faith publicly is now an illegal offence. NOWHERE in the constitution will you find the words "separation of church and state." IT IS NOT THERE, read it people!!! Christians can't talk about their God because someone is offended. But when I find something offensive, all I hear is: "It's freedom of speech." Such a double-standard if there ever was one. Evidently, for Christians there is no more freedom of speech. As a country we have become such politically correct garbage that we can't offend anyone anymore, unless of course they are a Christian, then it's okay because "hey, freedom of speech."

  • In reply to jmgrossoehme:

    You're memory is pretty short. Ali was strongly criticized for his views. He was stripped of the heavyweight title, and for three years was unable to fight professionally.

  • In reply to Steven Leventhal:

    Steven, I don't recall hearing any of this about Muhammed Ali. Perhaps I am remiss. However, I would like to also hear your thoughts on the rest of my response. Do you see a double standard in the media, the government, political correctness? Recently I finished a masters degree in education and took a "multiculturalism" class. It was anything but that.

  • Oh, there's a double standard allright. News has become sensationalistic and an attempt to grab ratings. At the same time reporters are sometimes afraid to criticize. What's more likely to be a top story..the latest Khardashian misadventures or a major discovery in the fight against cancer?
    We may have to agree to disagree on some of these points, but I appreciate your politeness in our back and forth here.

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