When some of my favorite left wing sports commentators go after Tim Tebow, I find it hard not take it personally. Not because I share any of Tebow’s religious convictions or political beliefs- I have as much in common with him on that score as I do with Newt Gingrich – but because I was once, on a much lower level, a white athlete who had a lot of the same skill set, physical traits and limitations as Tebow does, and had to prove myself constantly in mostly black ball games and leagues
Now fast forward to the last two months. As result of the victories he has won since becoming the Denver Bronco’s starting quarterback, Tim Tebow has become perhaps the most talked about figure in American sports. To much of the country, Tebow has become a folk hero, a symbol of triumph over adversity; to some of my friends, he has become a symbol of white privilege and preferential opportunities given to white quarterbacks.
I refuse to buy into either of these narratives. To me, Tebow is still the tough white kid earning respect in a mostly black game by sacrificing his body for the good of the team and finding ways of enhancing the talents of his team mates.
He plays the way I played, the way my son Eric played, the way my daughter Sara played, and the way I would teach any ball player to play.
That he is made into some kind of hero for achievements that might gain little attention were he black, is not his fault. It’s not what he asked for, not what he wants.
Even to the privileged, race can be a double-edged sword, causing one’s achievements to be so exaggerated that they end up being minimized.
Eminem’s ironic comments on his own career apply well to Tebow’s peculiar odyssey:
Ain’t have to graduate from Lincoln high school to know that”
With a Brooklyn Accent