NPF: BLACK JESUS

Posted in No Politics Friday on December 16th, 2011 by Ed

I'm going to ask that contrary to the usual NPF-about-sports rules, you do NOT skip this one just because you hate sports.

So. TebowManiatm has taken America by storm. Tebow, a highly successful college athlete, is now having a run of success with the Denver Broncos and the media are absolutely enamored with him. Among the general public he's a more polarizing figure though. Many people see him as too much of a goody-goody to root for. Imagine Ned Flanders playing quarterback, constantly reminding everyone about his celibacy and teetotaling and abiding love for Christ. There's something off-putting, at least to some portion of the population, about a guy who starts out every single interview he's ever done with "First I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." But at the same time this is decidedly NOT off-putting to a lot of people as well. They think he's the bee's knees: clean cut, patriotic, religious, and good at football. That's like the perfect person to a lot of Americans.

Anyway, in the spirit of that wonderful "What if the Tea Party was black?" piece from a few months ago I was planning on doing a "What if Tebow was a Muslim?" thing. Of course Americans would still love him if he was celibate, clean cut, patriotic, good at football, and began every interview with "First I would like to thank Allah and his one true prophet, Mohammed." Right? Yeah, of course they would. In any case, someone beat me to it (and did a great job with it).

But let's take it in another direction. Would we even be having this conversation if Tebow was black? Football fans out there, answer me a question: What becomes of college quarterbacks who arrive in the NFL wearing adjectives like "athletic" and "physical"? Who are known for their running skills and strong arm but lack sufficient accuracy to hit the broad side of a barn from 20 yards? Who have big physiques usually associated with positions like wide receiver or running back? I think you get my drift. If Tebow was Black Tebow, would the world have accommodated his demand to keep playing QB rather than change positions?

In my mind this is another tire to throw on the fire if you hate Tebow. If his overbearing Ned Flanders-ness and mediocre passing ability aren't enough, you can fixate on how he represents the racial double standards that permeate American sports. If only someone had moved Tebow to RB, so we could laud him as a "throwback" or "a real gamer" with "a lot of heart" and all the other stock plaudits for white skill position players. Maybe we could even compare him to Mike Alstott! That would be novel.

(I guess this was Sorta Politics Friday. But Tebow! Also Tebow.)