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FIRST-PERSON:Tebow-a-phobia (why do people hate him)?

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) — Tebow-a-phobia is a psychological disorder that has affected many throughout the United States in recent months. Quite a few fans of the National Football League, and even those who aren’t fans of professional football, possess the irrational emotional condition.

Persons possessing the disorder are characterized by an intense hatred of Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. Accompanying the negative emotion is the uncontrollable urge to take every opportunity to publically denounce and deride the Bronco signal-caller.

While most have discovered the phobia in the last few months, a few will admit to being plagued with Tebow-a-phobia for several years. These die-hard haters can trace their animosity to the days when Tebow played quarterback at the University of Florida.

What is it that drives people to a blind rage over Tim Tebow? What causes individuals to host websites dedicated to denigrating the young pro athlete? Why do people spend countless hours on a Facebook page dedicated to the hatred of Tebow?

While no one can know for certain what drives Tebow-a-phobia, speculation abounds.

To even begin to understand the roots of Tebow-a-phobia, it is necessary to examine some salient points.

Tebow was reared in a devout Christian home. He embraces the teachings of the Bible and professes to be a follower of Jesus. Tebow seeks to live out his faith and cultivates a moral lifestyle, and he practices giving of his time and finances to the cause of Christ.

An accomplished quarterback in high school, Tebow played collegiately at the University of Florida where he became the first sophomore to win the coveted Heisman Trophy. He also played on two national championship teams while at Florida.

Though many doubted his abilities to play quarterback in the NFL, the Denver Broncos made Tebow their No. 1 pick during the 2010 NFL draft. This past season he became the starting quarterback in the sixth game of the season and helped lead Denver to the playoffs and a first-round win over Pittsburgh.

Tebow was praised and criticized for his propensity to kneel and pray during games, especially after scoring a touchdown. He has said that his act of praying is not seeking divine intervention to win ballgames, but rather offering thanks to God. The practice has been dubbed “Tebowing.”

What is known about Tebow is that he is a devoted Christian. He seeks to live out his faith. He also says he is committed to sexual abstinence until he is married. Of course, as a first-round draft pick in the NFL, Tebow is well-off financially. Add to his football salary the numerous endorsement deals that are coming his way, and it is safe to say he is in the process of becoming quite wealthy.

In short, Tebow is young, handsome, a man of faith, and rich. Parents, isn’t this the type of young man you want your daughter to marry? If you have a son, could you find a better role model for him to emulate?

With all the positive qualities Tebow possesses, why does he have such intense critics?

Some football analysts take issue with his quarterback skills. They point out that his throwing motion is slow and his footwork cumbersome. Many football experts insist he is not now, and will never be, a great quarterback.

Tebow does not take time to dispute the experts. On numerous occasions he has commended his teammates for making him a much better quarterback than he is. Though he may not have the best mechanics, he does possess the uncanny ability to lead. His Denver teammates support him and, in the end, he and the Broncos had a successful season.

The criticism of Tebow’s football deficiencies should not be confused with those affected with Tebow-a-phobia. Football experts acknowledge Tebow’s potential and will point to specifics in his game that must improve if he is to remain viable as an NFL quarterback.

Tebow-a-phobia consists of irrational hatred. It is obsessed with Tebow’s displays of faith and efforts at a moral life. It is characterized by crass personal attacks.

So what motivates Tebow-a-phobia? For some affected with the disorder, it is jealousy. For these people Tebow is living the dream that has eluded them, so they cynically lash out. For others, Tebow is just too good. Tebow represents a standard that they fall short of, so these people castigate him in an effort to tarnish his sterling image.

However, I suspect that much of Tebow-a-phobia has less to do with Tim Tebow and more to do with Jesus Christ. It seems those affected by the irrational disorder are absolutely apoplectic over Tebow’s public displays of faith — his kneeling to pray.

Tebow is an unabashed, unashamed follower of Jesus Christ. When he bows to pray, he is acknowledging One greater than himself. His references to Christ are a constant reminder there is a God and that everyone is ultimately accountable to Him.

As for Tebow, he seems to care only about what Christ thinks about his actions. He appears to be totally unfazed by the Tebow-a-phobia. It is very likely Tebow anticipated the animosity he encounters. After all, Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22).

You see, Tebow-a-phobia is really Christ-a-phobia misdirected. Those who attack Tim Tebow for his morality and faith are really only reacting to Christ and all He represents.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Kelly Boggs