Human After All: Tim Tebow, Tiger Woods, and The Human Condition

Jared StearneCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2010

Tim Tebow steps into the pocket and delivers a strike to the end zone. Touchdown, Gators win.

Tebow, a two-time national champion and Heisman Trophy winner, jogs off the field to celebrate with his teammates and coaches. He must feel like the golden boy who can do no wrong, as if everyone wants a piece of him. He is the definitive big man on campus.

With the clock expiring on the final kneel down of the game, a mass of players, reporters, camera crews, and the like, rush to center field as confetti falls from above. Tebow is swarmed, as he often is, by hundreds of people who will hang on his every word. And why shouldn’t they? He’s the most accomplished collegiate athlete of all time, he’s humble, he’s moral and spiritual, he preaches the right values, he’s a leader…the list goes on and on.

We could dive into his trips to the Philippines to help underprivileged kids there. We could go on about his resolve to cap off a aational championship season last year, after a tough loss at home. We could talk about his history of constantly outpacing his doubters, competitors, and assumed superiors, ut we won’t—you already get the point.

Tiger Woods is right there with him. Hollywood smile, very smart, and outwardly humble, soft-spoken and amazingly talented at a sport that, at one time, was considered too good for minorities and the like.

How fitting that the good ol’ boys club be crashed in such spectacular style by such a worthy champion and how satisfying that the party crasher, Woods, would deliver such dominant performances day in and day out, that his competitors—the country club team—should rightly to fear him.

Woods is the perfect illustration of the American dream. Everyone everywhere loves Tiger for setting out to do one thing so well that no man living, nor dead,did it better!

And then December 2009 happened. We don’t need to discuss what happened in detail, but to give a recap—the man has a wretched history of infidelity.

Right now, he’s bleeding sponsorships left and right. His former friends are denouncing him in the national media, sports pundits are declaring an end to “his era.” His family life is in shambles and he’s being defended by John Daly (which is akin to Senator McCain being endorsed by then-President Bush). His meteoric rise to the very top of world sports is simply forgotten.

You need to be pretty high up to fall this far and who put him up on the pedestal? We did, of course. When people cling to heroes of some kind, we are often, if not inevitably, reminded that they remain indisputably human—complete with the failings and limitations of any man, no matter how strongly we feel otherwise.

Be it gambling,drugs,cheating or anything else, our golden boys will someday lose luster and show their human colors.

Somewhere, there’s a press conference featuring a fallen sports angel. The star athlete steps up to the podium to deliver a statement. The same reporters who used to write sugary-sweet man-love articles in his honor, now ready their anxious pens for a lambasting.

The athlete at the podium opens, “Who among you all is so perfect as to judge me?” And one reporter may quip, “My son isn’t asking for my jersey for his birthday.” The audience laughs in support.

No matter how many times we create a hero, we seem to forget that our heroes remain human, replete with shortcomings and character flaws.

We don’t need to endorse cheating and we don’t need to look the other way and ignore problems. However, when dealing with these fallen heroes who make mistakes,when punishing them, criticizing them, taking shots at them, at least be humane. Any person deserves that much.

If they no longer qualify to be heroes to our children and idols to the world, they certainly do qualify as human and we must accept them as such... eventually.