We often wonder if there are many (any?) true role models left in sport for young people to look up.
Oh, there are countless individuals in the world who quietly, privately, lead generous lives and influence youngsters in a very positive way. Those individuals rarely seek—or receive—recognition for what they do.
But when it comes to professional athletes and the example they set (as we’ve touched on here many times), it is sometimes hard not to be let down. Often the most famous athletes are not necessarily the best role models. They don’t want to be—and it may not be at all fair to expect them to be.
But sometimes you come across an individual who happens to be an athlete, successful, well-paid, high-profile and still manages to cut through the bravado, ego and clutter of that world—and who make a real difference in the lives of others.
By all accounts, one of those fairly rare individuals is Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
Tebow’s sometimes near-miraculous run in helping his team get to the second round of the playoffs came to an abrupt end this past weekend against the New England Patriots. But in terms of what I’m writing about today, that hardly matters. The issue is not whether this young man is a great quarterback (he is a wonderful athlete—the jury is out on whether he can be a top NFL signal-caller…). People can debate that if they’d like.
But when it comes to his being authentic or not, everything I’ve seen and read about Tebow suggests he is just that: real.
This is not about religion, or his particular religious beliefs. I personally endorse his willingness to talk about his faith. Perhaps more of us should. Maybe more high-profile people with a “platform” should. The opinions on that will vary.
But this individual helps others and seems to genuinely care for others. A writer for ESPN, Rick Reilly, says it very well in this piece: http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7455943/believing-tim-tebow
The thing is, every story, every interview we hear about Tim delivers the same consistent message: this guy is authentic.
So like him as a quarterback or don’t. But when we moan and complain that professional athletes don’t “get it”, when one does, we should at least acknowledge it and not turn away and dismiss them simply because he or she expresses themselves publicly about something that we may not endorse or support.
And the truth is, it’s not an act. With Tebow, it’s not about just “getting it”. It’s who he is, which makes his impact even more special.