Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On the Tebow phenomenon

I thought I'd add my two cents to the widespread discussion about Tim Tebow's football success and his personality.  Not that I have any particularly deep insight into his character - I can only react to the public persona he puts on display.

It's pretty evident that Tebow is passionate about his football and he understands two important aspects of football:  (1) it's a team game, and (2) the quarterback position demands leadership.  Tebow's public statements indicate that he wants to deflect the attention from himself to his teammates, which I have to believe plays well in the locker room, as well as on the air.  I can't possibly know the extent to which he actually believes that he doesn't rate the attention being showered upon him - but I hope his comments reflect accurately what he thinks.  Surely at least a few people in sports (and elsewhere) exist who are not all about calling attention to themselves and ignoring the necessary support from their team.  Many players, including what seems to be an inordinate percentage among wide receivers in the NFL, seem to need the attention desperately, rather than being satisfied with being successful in their team roles and helping the team win games.  It's very refreshing to hear Tebow giving praise to his teammates and not playing to the hype about him.

It's also very clear that Tebow has assumed the role of team leader, as any good quarterback should.  He isn't the best at the position the league has ever seen, at least in terms of raw quarterbacking skills, but he's proven he can carry the team to win.  In team sports, that's all that really counts.  Quarterbacks win when they can elevate the play of those around themselves - Super Bowl champion quarterbacks include some of the great quarterbacks of all time, but their ranks also include some rather midde-of-the-road quarterback talent.  Some great quarterbacks have never won a champtionship.  It remains to be seen what Tebow's future will be in that regard, of course.

It's amusing to see how the notion of a quarterback who is a threat to run the ball seems to be a new phenomenon in the NFL.  Tebow joins a long tradition of quarterbacks who can make plays by running, as well as dropping back in the pocket to throw.  It always has created problems for the defense to have to account for the quarterback as a ball carrier.  Why is this aspect of Tebow's game such a big deal in the media?  Frankly, I don't understand why it's being hyped as a new sort of quarterback play.  His size and power add a particular intensity to his running, but this is hardly the dawning of a new style of play.

If there's anything about Tebow I don't like (other than leading his Florida Gators to a win over my Oklahoma Sooners in the BCS National Championship game a few years back), it's when he pushes his religious beliefs while he's got media attention as a football player.  I have no problem with him believing whatever he wants, and pushing his religion on people in his private life, but ... he should keep his faith out of his football.  When he says he wants to thank his lord and savior jesus christ for all his success, this seems to be another aspect of his modesty.  However, it also suggests that a supernatural deity has picked sides and is helping Tebow beat other teams.  Would a supernatural deity do such a thing?  Is the almighty creator of the universe a Broncos football fan?  Frankly, the idea that Tebow's success follows from the intervention of an all-powerful deity on his behalf strikes me as arrogant, not modest.  Why should the creator of the universe want Tebow to succeed, thereby causing the failure of other players and their teams?  Doesn't that seem to suggest Tebow believes himself to be one of the omnipotent and omniscient creator's favorites?

When football players thank their deity for their success, and Tebow is only the most visible among many athletes who do this, it overlooks their mistakes and screw-ups.  Do they point to the sky on bended knee when they throw interceptions or fumble the ball?  "That one's on you, lord - my screw-up was your fault!"??

Why do I have such a problem with Tebow's open declarations of his faith?  I have no issue with him doing so in his private life to whatever extent he wishes.  But when he's granted an opportunity to gain media access to the public because of his football, then his remarks should be confined to football.  I don't turn on football games in order to hear religious proselytizing!  

To understand how utterly inappropriate this behavior is, imagine that I'm attending an international scientific conference to present a scientific paper on which I collaborated with several colleagues.  After offering acknowledgments to my colleagues, I then declare, "The same sort of rational analysis of objective evidence I've presented here, when applied to religious beliefs, provides a substantial argument against the existence of any mythical supernatural deity, often given by believers the name of god, jesus christ, or allah!"  Such a clearly irrelevant and discordant note would be an inappropriate intrusion of my personal spiritual perspective while on the stage in my role as a scientist.  I'd be pushing my opinions on people who, after all, didn't gather there to learn about my atheism.  By the same token, I find it disturbing that Tebow feels he can preach his religious beliefs from his platform as a football star.

I respect Tim Tebow as a football player, but I have no need to hear constantly about his religion.  Nor does anyone else.  He should keep that confined to his private life.


rdale said...

I think this is the first religious post of yours I've been in complete agreement with ;)

Tyler Roney said...

Okay, clearly you buy too much into the media. When do you hear him "preach"? He says he would like thank his Lord and Savior when he is at press conferences. That's it. Why is that so offensive? It's not like he has church on the sidelines and holds service throughout the game or even has a church service that's televised. Such a monotonous claim of people who don't like him in the media. Nitpick him some more, why don't you. "I don't turn on football games in order to hear religious proselytizing!" Really? Face it -- you don't like Tebow, we get it. You don't have to.

Michael Shaffer said...

Another good rant, Charles. Good points indeed. :-)

Chuck Doswell said...


Apparently, you missed why I find such things to be inappropriate (not "offensive"). Go back and read it again. To describe my comments as indicating I simply "don't like" Tebow shows you didn't understand what I said. If there's any monotonous claim in the media, it's the almost universal respect given to him for his public displays of his christianity!

Anonymous said...

You wrote:

I respect Tim Tebow as a football player, but I have no need to hear constantly about his religion. Nor does anyone else. He should keep that confined to his private life.

Chuck, you present here a classic example of the fallacy of sweeping generalization. We also see this fallacy within the context of another logical fallacy known as guilt by association. Please indulge me and permit me to expound upon these fallacies.

Chuck, you praise Tebow for his football and leadership skills. You then go further and associate Tebow the football player with Tebow the Christian. You proceed to assert that Tebow is somehow flawed because of his Christian faith. You state that you are tired of hearing Tebow profess his faith in God, and then you follow up with the cardinal sin of the fallacy of sweeping generalization in asserting that the rest of us don't wish to hear Tebow profess his faith, either. Highly illogical.

Please allow me to explain my position further. I will concede that it is possible, however unlikely, that I missed the global pronouncement stating that no one wants to hear about Tebow's religious beliefs. Nor do I recall giving you unequivocal rights to speak on my behalf. Highly unlikely, but possible nonetheless. Kinda like accepting the possibility, no matter how remote, of God, but I digress. Conceding the point for the sake of this dialectic, can you logically assert that you are somehow superior to others to the point where you can speak for them? Now, that is arrogance!

Okay, you don't want to hear Tebow praise his God for his life, his passion of the sport, his QB rating, a blown assignment by a Steelers cornerback on the first play of overtime in a playoff game, or whatever. Good on ya. I get that. However, you have the right to not hear Tebow. You have the right to exercise your right finger and press the mute button when Tebow is praising his God before, during, or after a Broncos game. You have the right to exercise that same right finger and change the channel when Tebow praises his God. You have the right, for the time being anyway, of avoiding certain situations, such as might be encountered inside a sports bar, where there exists the possibility you might hear Tebow praise his God. You also have the right to avoid media exposure of a Broncos game, boycott the NFL and the television networks that broadcast Broncos games, the goods and services advertised during Broncos games, the cable and satellite television providers that pay the NFL for the rights to broadcast Broncos games, ad infinitum. You even have the right, for the moment anyway, to not bathe for weeks, travel to Denver, set up a tent outside Mile High without permission, dress up in vermin-infested rags, beg for low-fat lattes, smoke dope, deny the right of transit to others, piss on a crucifix, and carry around a sign with "No OrToN nO pEaCe!" written on 70% recycled cardboard scrap and using for markers fair trade certified, environmentally friendly, carbon neutral, and pesticide-and-herbicide free turds obtained from a poor unemployed post-grad in Boulder who had the misfortune to take out thousands of dollars of student loan debt so he could obtain a masters degree in adult delinquency. At least his shit don't stink!

That's the great thing about America. Anyone has the right, for the moment anyway, to express themselves, whether it is on the NFL Network or on a blog. Tebow speaks about his faith. You blog about your absence of faith. Does one right negate the other?

Anonymous said...

Continuing on with my thought...

Please indulge me one last time while I apply my fairness test to your last paragraph. Were I to substitute "Chuck Doswell" for "Tim Tebow", "atmospheric scientist" for "football player", and "atheism" for "religion", would the result be the same or different? Let's find out!

I respect Chuck Doswell as an atmospheric scientist, but I have no need to hear constantly about his atheism. Nor does anyone else. He should keep that confined to his private life.

Sounds fair to me. Chuck, do you agree? No? Well.

Do you have the right to express publicly your absence of faith? Does Tim Tebow possess the same right to express publicly his presence of faith? And do I have the right to express, however quietly, that you STFU when you feel the need to denigrate one's right to express their faith when guided by one's conscience and character? Do we possess the right to not fully exercise our rights and instead practice this tolerance and acceptance bullshit I keep hearing about from my friends on the left? The concept of fairness, my friend, is guided by logic. It would be illogical and hypocritical to assert otherwise.

And no, God is not a Broncos fan. Rather, He roots for the Cubbies. What better way for God to demonstrate the senselessness of the human condition and the need for faith to transcend futility? After all, He believes there's always next year, too.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your blog entry and for your consideration to publish in toto my response. Best regards...


Chuck Doswell said...

BC is Brian Curran .. Brian, in future comments, you need to include your first and last name if you want your comments published, per my blog rules.

Your assertion that I've made a sweeping generalization is true ... that is, my choice of words that no one else "needs" to hear constantly about Tebow's christianity. I admit that this is a generalization - it's logically possible that there are people who "need" to hear about this, so I stand corrected. I withdraw that statement and feel pity for anyone who "needs" this barrage of self-righteousness. Happy now?

Yes, of course, I have the right to not watch the NFL, or turn on the mute button, or whatever. But that doesn't change my assertion of the inappropriateness of Tebow's public displays.

Blogging is not the same as Tebow's public displays of his faith via the sports news media. My blog is about my opinions - the sports media are about sports. If he goes on some religious medium and spouts his faith, that's appropriate.

Your substitution analogy is also not consistent with what I've said. I don't display my atheism every time I perform my duties as an atmospheric scientist. You seem utterly to have missed my point, so your analogy simply fails.

Tebow's free speech rights are not at issue in this blog and I never denied him the "right" to do what he's doing. You clearly didn't understand what I was saying.

rdale said...

I wonder how the reaction to Mr Tebow would be if he bowed to the east after every touchdown and thanked Allah for giving him the ability to be a great football player...

Anonymous said...

My. Did I touch a nerve? Am I happy now? Ordinarily I would feel no pleasure in pointing out the mistakes of others. In this instance I do admit to feeling a wee modicum of satisfaction. I believe the old-fashioned term for it is "comeuppance".

Chuck, perhaps your hostility toward religion is clouding your rational thought processes. I know full well that the limbic system is easy to turn on but quite difficult to turn off. Let us attempt to return to cold, hard logic and analyze where your reasoning is suspect.

You find Tebow's public expressions of faith inappropriate. It may surprise you to know that there are many Christians who would agree with you. Point conceded. Your feelings on the matter, however, are immaterial. Feelings are illogical.

In your reply, you distinguish your blog from sports media. Your blog does indeed contain your opinions, and again I concede the point. However, you then make the assertion that sports media are about sports. Um, perhaps you've been off the grid for an extended amount of time, but did you hear about Tiger Woods and his apparent inability to keep his putter in his pants? What about Ben Roethlisberger and his, shall we say, aggressiveness with the ladies? What of the ongoing debate involving the distinction between rape and child abuse as it pertains to Penn State's football program and its former assistant coach? Or of the recent scandal pertaining to questionable "benefits" given to players on both the UM football and men's basketball teams? Tiger Woods and Jerry Sandusky lit up (and continue to do so) sports television, print, and internet media...and these situations were hardly about sports! I believe you'll find that these acts were reported and commented upon in many sports media -- all you have to do is to google the phrase " scandal ". Tebow's faith and demonstrations of such continue to be discussed, dissected, and opined on many sports media and in the blogosphere. The only logical connection we can make from the evidence before us is this: the sports media supplies content which includes not only subjects specific to sports but also matters relating to sports only tangentially. The sports media will report on anything that is or might be connected somehow to a sports celebrity, a sports team, or the sports business. Again, you present the fallacy of sweeping generalization and again I must point this out. Fail.

Anonymous said...

My substitution argument is absolutely correct, and it is you, sir, who utterly misses the point. Recalling your failed logic the first go-around, you use the fallacy of guilt by association when you connected Tebow the football player with Tebow the Christian. How is this somehow different from Chuck Doswell the atmospheric scientist and Chuck Doswell the atheist! It matters not that you are an atmospheric scientist and Tim Tebow is a football player. Neither does it matter that he has a bigger audience than you. It matters not that he is Christian and you are atheist. You are both shown to state publicly your assertion on faith. The fora matter not, nor does the occupation. As a result, both assertions can either semantically true or false. You cannot conclude truth on one and false on other. Sorry, Chuck, but you can't rationalize yourself out of this box. Epic fail.

In closing, Chuck, I do not wish this to result in hard feelings between us. I do understand that you do not wish to deny Tebow the right to praise his Creator as Tebow sees fit. I also see that Tebow's actions clearly bother you. I can accept that. What bothers me is that you and some others who comment here feel the need to claim some rational higher ground while at the same time utilize logical fallacies, such as sweeping generalizations, red herrings, appeals to emotion, etc. to belittle those who find a need for faith. It does not hold true that one must push others down so that they might rise. That is intellectually dishonest and is indeed worthy of pity.

Kindest regards,

Chuck Doswell said...


No nerves touched. No hard feelings.

Sport is inextricably linked to humans, so I concur that whatever the people of sport do can be offered as sports news. Certainly Tebow's religion has become a sports media topic because of his public displays - inappropriately. I believe this matter of his private beliefs should be kept private in association with his football and so not be sports news, but his actions have made it so. And you're right. I don't like that.

My feelings in the matter, however, are pretty far from immaterial when it comes to my blog. You've already granted me the right to express them. Whether you think they're logical or not and certainly whether or not you agree with them.

As a matter of fact, it doesn't surprise me at all that many christians are unhappy about what Tebow does. I've known that for some time.

Let me try one last time to explain where you've missed my point: I have never used my position as an atmospheric scientist to promote atheism, or anything else of a personal nature. I don't wear atheist symbols during my professional activities, I don't punctuate my conference presentations with atheist propaganda, I don't make any public connection between my profession and my spiritual side when I'm engaged professional activities, including media interviews. I'm not using the stage on which I operate as a professional to promote my personal opinions about anything other than atmospheric science. To do so would be as inappropriate as Tebow's displays in association with his profession. That's not rationalization. The fact that I've offered my opinions "publicly" on my blog is thoroughly irrelevant to this point, as my blog and my professional stage are absolutely distinct.

This entire line of discussion is not about religion, per se, but about Tebow's public religious displays on the stage afforded him by being a professional athlete. Your concern about the claims of atheists regarding the "rational high ground" is an excellent example of what you claim I've done - it's a red herring. You have a right to your opinions, naturally, but in my opinion, this point is way off-topic in this discussion, as was your obvious swipe in your earlier post(s) about the "occupy" protesters. We can debate who owns the rational high ground when and if I post something where that's a pertinent line of thought.

Anonymous said...

The following shows what I see to be the crux of our disagreement re the Tebow phenomenon. This will be my last comment as it's oftentimes unwise to argue with someone who owns all the ink.

You used the inductive argument from analogy technique to conclude that Tebow is wrong to publicly proclaim his faith in media when access to media is obtained via his status as football player. Because you refrain from publicly proclaiming your absence of faith in media when access to media is obtained via your status as atmospheric scientist, you argue, Tebow must likewise do the same. In essence, because you self-limit your right to discuss your atheism while being an atmospheric scientist, Tebow should likewise self-limit his right to discuss his monotheism while being a football player.

I then proceed to use a similar argument from analogy to conclude that, regardless of the form of media, the condition of being a football player or atmospheric scientist and/or the condition of being a monotheist or an atheist does not limit the right either of you possess to discuss publicly your faith or absence thereof.

See, Chuck, I didn't misunderstand your point, utterly or otherwise. I drew you out so that we can see where you stand and where we differ. A tactic, I might add, you employ quite often.

Where we differ is how we view personal liberty. You view Tebow's actions in the context of positive liberty whereas I view his actions in the context of negative liberty (see Another way to phrase our philosophical dichotomy may be the "will theory" vice the "interest theory" (see

Inductive reasoning being what it is, I cannot persuade you any more than you can persuade me. Suffice it to say, as you own this blog, it is easier for you to declare off-topic, declare victory, and walk away. Your blog, your rules. Nevertheless, it is my hope that one or two of your readers will reflect upon this exchange and consider their reasoning very carefully before giving their opinions on what others should do.

As to your response re the "occupy" movement, there are many of us who believe we've been occupied since January 20, 2009. Either you fail to note the use of argumentum ad absurdum and literary techniques as satire and stream of consciousness, or somebody's ox just got gored. Methinks it was the latter. Should I be permitted to comment here in the future, I'll know better than to channel my inner Kerouac or Thompson and stick with a dry, schoolmarmish, and pedantic writing style.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer my thoughts here one last time.

Jonathan Finch said...

Excellent, and I agree 100%!! The sentiments you express in the latter part of this blog entry are almost an exact replica of my thoughts on the matter as I have expressed on Facebook.

Chuck Doswell said...


I'm quite happy to leave it to my readers to decide whether or not my logic is as flawed as you claim it to be. Evidently, it's you who has declared victory. You're projecting your own traits onto me.

Justin Reid said...

I can understand the sentiment about Tebow and the media circus around him (questions of authenticity unfortunately arise), however I have to kind of agree with some of Brian's argument (without being so troll-ish lol). What makes Chuck Doswell, severe weather research magnate, professing atheist ideas like Christopher Hitchens, and calling any deity balderdash less offensive than Tebow the football star simply praying to himself and thanking his Lord and Savior for his good performance on the field (note the etymology "his" and not "our"). I see no difference, even though it can be argued that he is using media to slam his faith in the faces of the national stage, and as you stated I don't think this is what Tebow wants.

This is just my opinion, I like most of your musings and ideas (such as ownership, crockumentaries, etc.) however I would like to see some posts that bring to light more positive aspects of our society, and especially in meteorological research where you have keen insights. You're free to write anything you want of course, however not everything has to be so existential.

Have a good day,
Justin Reid

Chuck Doswell said...

The difference is he's using his football fame to allow him the opportunity to spread his message regarding his faith far and wide. If you, like Brian, can't see the difference, I give up.

As for the content of my blog, it's always about something that's on my mind at the moment, positive or negative, that motivates me to post something. Go back to my archives and peruse them. As you say ... it's my blog, after all.

Steve Mirsky said...

I too have a problem with players thanking the lord as if to say that they are more worthy than the player on the other side. Taking it one step further, when people escape from an accident or are otherwise spared from death, they might say the lord saved them. But to me this also implies that the person who was not saved from death was not worthy of it.

Justin Reid said...


I didn't mean any offence earlier and sorry if I did. To be honest, I think the entire Tebow thing has been blown way out of proportion, whether you support him praying to the Christian God on TV or resist it.

Though in this situation what could really be a pitfall is if Tebow gets into a scandal of some kind (sexual relations, drugs, alcoholism etc.) and those who touted him would appear naive. Now I'm starting to sound like an existentialist :P

Have nice a day,
Justin Reid

Chuck Doswell said...

No offense taken, Justin. No apols necessary.