Three Ugly Truths Exposed by the Tebow Assault
The ongoing imbroglio with Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow has made plain three really unflattering facts about the secular-progressive ("sec-prog") movement in this country. Tebow's straightforward and unapologetic Christianity has been received by NFL mensae magnae (contradiction in terms?) as a type of threat. These folks have responded by building upon the previously gathered strength of the anti-Christian movement in this nation. Such a movement, by the way, is far more prevalent than it formerly appeared.
First truth: the sec-progs have meatier game in sight than we used to think. That is, when sec-progs start out declaring that they aim merely to set a plain whereupon all religions can fairly "coexist," they really contemplate an end-game where religions fade permanently out of view. Have a look at the emergent history of the jurisprudence: "No federal religion" became "no state religions"; this became "no government entanglement with religion"; this became "no governmental support for religion"; this became "no governmental mention of religion"; this led to the phase that the Tebow debacle currently evinces: "no popular mention of religion in any public sphere, including private affairs which get viewed on TV." One can easily imagine the last few steps in this phenomenology of disappearance.
Coming back to Tebow, let's remember that his comparatively subtle iconographic decorum has managed to stir up the hornets' nest to a startling degree: recent betrayals by active (Lions players Stephen Tulloch and Tony Scheffler) and especially retired (Merrill Hodge and Jake Plummer) players lack all response-to-stimulus proportionality and sound more like personal defensive responses to some governmental actor threatening the players' own religious liberty. That is, all such ugliness over Tebow taking to his own knee in thanks, or occasionally mentioning the J-word after a game, exposes a fetid, rotten sort of secularism at the heart of what most popular accounts -- derivative largely of the accounts by complete outsiders to the sports world, the sacerdotal order of pale, effeminate, urban-dwelling media-poseurs -- name "America's game."
This leads one to the second ugly truth exposed by all this Tebow noise: football -- especially the NFL -- has gone soft. This ugly truth might also be called "the Heartland fallacy," because it modifies not only football players, but also fans (i.e., average Americans) and the culture. (Recall how very briskly the NFL ended their association with Hank Williams, Jr. over what amounted to a bizarre yet harmless drunken screed functionally unrelated to his easily dismissible role as Monday Night Football's twangy bard.) By virtue of the fact that so many league-dwellers and viewers agree that Tebow is "out of bounds" for announcing his unapologetic Christianity, one rightly detects that football is no longer the happy sanctum of "Heartland values," or whatever.
In fact, compared to the NBA -- by popular accounts, a much less "traditionalist" league -- the NFL's treatment of its vocal Christian players plain stinks. For example, the NBA's Kevin Durant has mentioned Christ in thanks after every nationally televised win for four years running (as an OKC fan, I know). Dwayne Wade, who like Tebow spends much of his off-court time with children with cancer, talks openly about the Holy Trinity having motivated his choice of jersey number (3). During last season's playoffs, league commentators repeatedly flashed a picture of a college-aged Kendrick Perkins serving Catholic Mass as a nearly grown-up altar boy, without a hint of derisive commentary (and the topic even became an issue mentioned innocuously and with constructive interest throughout the series). All of these instances witnessed not a single carbuncle of anti-Christian sentiment. Could it be that the NFL is just the more secular-progressive, without being the more pandering, league?
Nope: the very zeitgeist of nearly-2012 aligns anti-religiosity with populism. I don't know quite how to explain the lack of Christian-derision in the NBA, given the general veracity of the previous sentence, though it seems to have something to do with a given league's degree of attention to marketability: the NBA cares about this, being a business, but the NFL seems to live and breathe by such a criterion, obsessing over it. To me, this means plainly that the NBA is simply a better-run league, less expected to kowtow to the superfluous expectations placed upon it by the hoi polloi (aside from the expectation that they will avoid lockouts at all cost!).
Add to all these charges college football (which I've never watched)'s crisis with Jerry Sandusky, and a generalized sense of the conformist culture (entailed by football's hierarchies across the nation's middle schools, high schools, and colleges) which arguably produced the Sandusky cover-up and the clannish defense of him afterward...and you've got a full-on midlife crisis for football.
While loving the game itself, I've simply been driven to the brink. Take the absolutely mandated pink NFL jerseys for the entire month of October; the cinematographic acrobatics ordered by the league to avoid camera shots of even the tiniest dustup on the field; the politically correct commentators; the hyper-conservative play-calling embraced as a simple "tradition" of the game (another doctrinal offense by Tebow); and now Tebow receiving harsher treatment than past players who have raped, sold drugs, drowned dogs, etc.
In other words, the league's oddball values (i.e., mainstream ones) have finally been exposed to an unforgiving light. It's the same wan, greenish light that characterizes all of the urban-poseur values of the sec-progs (usually reserved to their own sportless sphere of influence). It's readily visible if we select a view of a slightly bigger picture: the sec-progs advocate teaching kindergartners how to wear condoms but are offended by the concept that sometimes grown men fight with their fists. Or to put an even finer point upon it: they want to teach kindergartners how to wear condoms and (not "but") are offended by Tim Tebow's open chastity. The point is that in watching the NFL, there remains no longer any distinction between "urban values" and "rural values," for which the NFL used to surrogate. And as ever, these values remain at cross-purposes. Soon now, we the people will be put to a choice.
This second truth looms so large as to bleed over into the third: that our entire culture evinces a general trend whereby the popular sensibilities become thinner-skinned as the popular mores demand an ever stronger and stronger stomach. The average commercial shown during an NFL game threatens to corrupt the mind of the youth in far more pernicious ways than a few skirmishes by players during the game ever could. And yet the liberals who have long masterminded the realization of such a bizarre world with a thousand subtle nuances -- having effectually blinded the masses -- can simply shrug in feigned innocent perplexity.
The moment, which I believe has just passed us, wherein Tim Tebow's prayers and sexual chastity get formally denounced as dangerous needs to be a "moment of clarity," en masse, whereupon we can all reassess the paltry values that we have thoughtlessly embraced as a people. While, happily, it seems that enough folks have awoken to the economic blights of leftism for the 2012 election, such a realization -- in order to bear any meaningful change -- must be met with a concomitant moral reawakening. This is my New Year's wish. And God bless Tim Tebow.