I am a Baby Boomer, you know that generation that was raised by “The Greatest Generation.” And one thing that I have noticed about the vast majority of Baby Boomers is that none of us are willing to grow old gracefully.
We love to cling to the past. I say all this to help you understand that when I am writing these blogs I very often refer to how things were during the “good times” or the days of my youth. And this blog will be no different because I will make reference, more than once I’m sure, of how it used to be…………………………..
During the holidays, my oldest daughter Jill, and I were watching football (can you believe there happened to be a football game on during the holidays) and the subject of Tim Tebow came up. So guess what followed next: yes it was about his faith and the stir that it has created in the 24/7/365 world of sports that we now call normal………………………….
Her comment to me was that she didn’t think it was fair for Tim Tebow to be criticized for his visible show of his faith and just how wrong it was for so many people to want him to fail for that very reason. Well naturally “Opinionated Pop” couldn’t let that statement pass without cranking up a good argument.
Of course my first line of questioning dealt with the fact: how did she know that there was so many that wanted him to fail because of this. And just like, seemingly, every breathing human in this country below the age of fifty, she had some technological device in her hand that could deliver them more information in the touch of a fingertip than the brain can possibly process in 24/7/365. She then began to devour all the instant info she could gather.……
She then admitted that there was just so much written and spoken about his faith and all too often, it was brought up when Tebow failed to engineer another Bronco victory or made the glaring mistake that cost a victory as is so very often the case with the quarterback position. She also defended her position saying that she has two little five year old boys and another on the way, and that she would really like for them to be able to witness major sports figures that have a deep-seated Christian faith, that is visible and be treated the same as other athletes…………….
Fair enough, I thought. But here is what I am talking about: most every athlete and especially the star athletes are critiqued at a level that soars to the utmost height of stupidity. And Tim Tebow is no different. So when he points to the sky after a great play, a touchdown, or anything else that prompts him to deliver a little acknowledgement of gratefulness to his Heavenly Father, there seems to be an infinite number of photographs of this man.
So if there is an attendance of a hundred grand, you can be sure that there is about 60,000 cell phones, iphones, smart phones and on and on, with cameras snapping pictures of him. The only ones not clicking are us baby boomers, the “Greatest Generation” and those infants and toddlers to busy keeping their pacifiers in their mouth………..
And so when Tebow fails to deliver, there is always going to be those who make an issue of his faith not coming through in the clutch. Now my point is this: whether it be Tebow or anyone who suits up for any kind of sports competition, and yes I include those who possess only the skill level of the Ronnie Clifton’s of the world, I just wish that they would play the game without pointing to the sky, wearing Bible verses on eye glare strips, wrist bands, or whatever. And I say that because I believe that God loves every participant, from the person warming the bench to the point makers, the very same………………
What I would like to see that I think would have so much more influence, on my grandsons and every kid in the world, than those gestures just mentioned, is players from opposite teams extending a helping hand to another player who has been knocked down, a pat on the back for a great play even if it means defeat for their team, or an acknowledgment in a post game interview of the great effort of the other team other than the excuses of why their team failed. We have all witnessed this, and usually at some point in every game, but not nearly enough………………….
When I was a kid growing up I worshipped the Yankees, especially the years between 1957 and 1964. I couldn’t wait for the sports page to arrive each day from opening day in April until the end of the World Series in October. Of course the Yankees had those larger than life heroes such as Mantle, Maris, Berra, and Ford just to name a few.
But one guy that I had complete admiration for was the little sure-handed second sacker named Bobby Richardson. About the only source of information back then was newspapers, magazines, or trading cards. But the more that I read on Bobby Richardson, the more I realized that he had a very real Christian faith. He was both admired and loved by his teammates, even those who pursued paths of questionable behavior in their very successful careers………………..
In the book “The Last Hero” one of many books written about “The Mick” or Mickey Mantle, it is documented in there that when #7 realized that his days here on earth were numbered, he sought the counsel of his old friend and teammate Bobby Richardson. Mantle whose off-field antics drew headlines even back then knew where he needed to turn for guidance in troubled times…………………….
My wife gave me the book: “Courage Beyond The Game: The Freddy Steinmark Story” for Christmas. This is the story of the, little in stature- large in performance free safety for the Texas Longhorns of 1968-70 that won thirty straight games. Steinmark grew up inWheat RidgeColoradoand signed with the Horns’ after a star-studded high school career.Texasand Darrell Royal was the only major college to offer him a scholarship and he defied all the odds by starting his sophomore and junior seasons and making some all-conference teams along the way.
He played in the “Game of the Century” (1969Arkansasvs.Texas) that determined the national championship. Two weeks after the game he had a leg amputated that was severely damaged by bone cancer. It cost him his senior season and a promising pro career. A year and half later Freddy Steinmark lost the battle and died of that horrible disease………………….
In that book everyone of Steinmark’s teammates, both in high school and college, and all his coaches spoke of his faith and his ability to always stay focused on his Christian beliefs even when the crazy world of big time sports was offering all those temptations that for so many are so hard to push aside………………
So to Tim Tebow and all his fans, I would just like to say that I am proud of what Tim Tebow stands for. I will forever defend his right to be open with his faith and admire him for the manner that he has lived his life, much of it serving his fellow man, because of both his and his family’s commitment to a strict adherence to what they believe the Bible commands us to do…………………
Maybe today’s athletes should do a little research on men like Freddie Steinmark and Bobby Richardson and learn to walk the walk like them and not worry so much about talking the talk. As St. Francis of Assissi once said, “each day deliver a sermon and when necessary use words”……………………..
And oh by the way, those two little five year old grandsons of mine have been known to wear jerseys with this on the back: Hamilton-32 and Young-10. Yes there are still those kind of guys around………………….RC