The Tim Tebow Effect: The Media's Fascination With The Golden Gator
Make no mistake about it—Tim Tebow is college football's finest player.
His accomplishments speak for themselves: He is a two-time National Champion, a two-time SEC Champion, a Heisman Trophy winner, a two-time All-American, a two-time Maxwell Award winner, and has won most every other award imaginable.
Tebow, in just two seasons as the Gator's starter, has achieved more than most college athletes could ever hope for.
And he still has a season to go.
For as long as there has been college football, über athletes have been met with both adoration and animosity. It almost comes naturally to root against the guy who has everything.
Tebow is no exception.
But for Tebow and college football, there has never been a time quite like this in the long and storied history of the sport. Instant media and all-access have made Tim Tebow bigger than any other college athlete in history.
His impeccable resume—coupled with his squeaky clean, golden boy, perfect off-the-field image—have made him a legend in his own time and the national media fawns over the quarterback like no other player in the history of the game.
For a lot of fans, myself included, it is all perfectly nauseating.
There are other media darlings in the college football world, but none that receives the same kind of press that Tebow receives.
The world knows about Tebow's mission to a Filipino orphanage to assist in the circumcisions of the infants there. A great story, no doubt.
But outside of Texas, not many people know that Colt McCoy spent a week in Peru, in a village cut out of the jungle near the Amazon River, teaching young children about his faith and football.
When Tebow speaks to prisoners about his faith and inspires them to make a better life for themselves, the media makes a documentary on the subject.
But the cameras are absent when Sam Bradford, the nation's most recognizable American-Indian college football player since Sonny Sixkiller in 1972, returns to pay respect to the Cherokee nation that embraces him as a national face of their people.
What makes Tebow's story any better?
Tim Tebow is Superman.
That is as reasonable an explanation as any and as many times as I've read it and heard it over the last few seasons, there can be no other explanation.
Tim Tebow is Superman (or Mary Poppins)... Practically perfect in every way.
During the 2009 BCS National Championship Game Fox Sports analyst Thom Brenneman seemingly spoke for the media at large when he said, "If you’re fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it.”
This week, the Tim Tebow mania hit new highs.
First, when Tebow wasn't unanimously named to the coaches pre-season All-SEC team, the media immediately went on a witch hunt to find the culprit who did the unthinkable.
Apparently, Steve Spurrier made a mistake. What he failed to say was whether that mistake was intentional or not.
Then, FanHouse blogger Clay Travis, made national headlines by asking the question no one needed the answer to.
"Are you saving yourself for marriage?"
Even before Tebow answered the question, the ceiling opened and a shaft of heavenly light appeared.
"Yes I am," the quarterback answered, before ascending through the open ceiling into the heavens.
Alright. It didn't exactly happen that way, but it might as well have.
It was just one more story that makes the "Golden Boy" more golden. Just something else to shift the balance of adoration and animosity.
Tebow isn't to blame. I would be shocked if the humble quarterback didn't admit his imperfections in every way.
He is genuine, but he isn't perfect.
His portrayal by the media is quite the opposite and it makes him a bigger target for haters, both on-the-field and off.
Two years ago, as a sophomore, LSU fans acquired Tebow's cellphone number prior to the meeting between the two teams and left death threats on his phone and this season Tebow is sure to hear his fill of "virgin" comments.
It is inevitable.
You see, college football players and fans alike, can only take so much perfection. With each new story churned out by the Tebow obsessed media comes yet another reminder that we are mere mortals.
We are reminded that he is better than all of us.
We are reminded that he is Superman.
And the balance shifts ever closer to animosity.
The media has driven us to it.
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