This is a holiday weekend update on Tim Tebow’s quest.
Full disclosure: Never met him. Hate the Denver Broncos (Sorry, Kevin) even when Tebow starred there and took them to the playoffs. But I love the man’s quest and the way the devout Christian quietly but consistently lives it.
Most especially, I admire the way Tim Tebow infects other people’s lives positively with his. “I’m blessed because of my faith,” he says, “that I don’t have to worry about the future because I know who holds my future.”
After being dropped by Denver and other NFL teams, the athletic young man set out to re-try baseball after too many years to have the best chance.
On the surface, the Heisman Trophy winner seeks to make baseball’s big leagues. The N.Y. Mets signed him last year, sent him down to the lowest of the low minor leagues, the Class A Columbia Fireflies in the South Atlantic League. His first at-bat, a two-run homer to left. It wasn’t that good all the time — on the field.
But off the field, ah, that was always good.
Here’s this huge 29-year-old adult man, a two-time NCAA football champion quarterback with the Florida Gators, who played — and prayed — on national TV. And he’s chasing the same long-shot dream as 20-year-old teammates. Riding the same bus through the night to away games, sleeping on the floor, encouraging others, working as hard as everyone, maybe harder on things like batting.
Then something strange happened. Attendance soared, even for away games way up in New Jersey. They couldn’t make No. 15 Tebow shirts fast enough. People drove long distances just to be around him. It certainly wasn’t always his hitting or fielding.
J.J. Cooper over at Baseball America cleverly studied the 14-team league’s average attendance this year and found crowds much larger for Tebow games, sometimes twice the size of non-Tebow games. He estimates the son of missionaries who started his children’s charity before college graduation brought the league a minimum extra $1.6 million this year.
The attraction was Tebow, the way he wears fame humbly, talks respectfully to everyone, especially youngsters clamoring, not always politely, for his autograph or just to bask briefly in his gaze. The look in the youngsters’ eyes. And their parents’. And on the faces of the special-needs kids he brings to games or organizes proms for.
Some sportswriters seek to show how much they know by dismissing Tebow’s MLB outlook. Actually, they’re revealing how much they don’t know about the Tebow story.
Tebow got promoted this week up to the St. Lucie Mets, owned by the mother team. So now, Florida State League fans can see him. And the Mets will benefit directly from increased ticket sales.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick of the behavior of many pro athletes (not all, but enough), even some collegiate players. Their spoiled entitlement, even law-breaking. I can no longer watch an entire NFL game. Canceled my NFL Sunday Ticket this year. The showboating, the taunting, like juvenile perp walks. Give me just highlights. Spare me the self-promoting strutting after one lousy sack.
So, when someone like Tebow comes along playing the one-time national past-time the best he can and seeking to improve through disappointments and failures without whining, he sticks out for that rare substance in modern American life called Decency. And Charity. Humility. Manners.
Imagine in this day and age having someone in public life to cheer for, not against, a living role model to point out to children. Free of worry for what he might do or say tonight that would sully tomorrow’s news.
This is not big news. But it is important news: And what’s encouraging is that, despite the cheesy public behavior of some, so many Americans can still see and seek the opposite. They seem to have found it in No. 15.