by Shannon Williams
I recently had a conversation with a friend and we discussed some of the ills of the world. We talked about the Utah man who was a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance and recently killed himself and his two sons in a home explosion. We also discussed the horrific acts of genocide in places like Darfur and Rwanda. And we even talked about the plight of everyday people in the United States— people who are hungry, homeless, or suffering from some sort of debilitating disease.
As our conversation continued, I began to feel heavy. All the grim talk was weighing on me and I needed a spirit boost; my friend did too.
That’s when I thought of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and New York Knicks’ recent sensation Jeremy Lin.
By simply being themselves, Tebow and Lin, both devout Christians have exposed the world to God. The amazing thing about both these men is that neither was expected to excel in their respective sports and both had their fair share of critics.
During the 2010 NFL draft, Tebow’s first round draft pick was a controversial one because many felt he didn’t deserve his selection—that he was a high risk pick. As a matter of fact, the coach who selected him in the draft, Josh McDaniel, was criticized for picking Tebow because many people felt he wasn’t NFL material. McDaniel and other members of the Broncos coaching staff were eventually fired.
Tebow didn’t begin his career as a starter, however, shortly after the 2011 season began; Tebow replaced Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton as starter. Tebow’s skills as a quarterback often came into play. Critics felt he wasn’t a good thrower, and not an accurate passer. By all comparisons, Tebow was no Manning (Peyton or Eli), but he was a great athlete. It was Tebow’s athletic ability, his decision-making skills and frankly his trust in God that propelled him forward in the league.
When the Broncos would win a game, Tebow would often be seen kneeling on one knee, pointing to the sky in reference to God and praying. This simple gesture evolved into a worldwide phenomenon known as Tebowing.
Jeremy Lin’s story is not much different.
If stereotypes carried weight, Lin isn’t even supposed to be in the NBA. He’s a Harvard graduate and he’s Asian-American—things that “stereotypically” may not equate to being a professional basketball player.
Generalizing Lin is an example of why stereotypes are stupid.
Throughout his young career, Lin has been cut by two NBA teams — the last taking place on Christmas Day 2011. However, Lin has persevered. He eventually joined the Knicks and played occasionally. Things changed considerably for Lin this month when he led a winning streak for the team and was promoted to the starting lineup. Lin became the first NBA player to score at least 20 points and have seven assists in each of his first five starts.
Lin’s success on the court has led basketball fans to coin the term “Linsanity.” The type of momentum he has built for fans at Madison Square Garden is something that we haven’t seen in a long time.
That momentum has also gone beyond the court as people worldwide have taken notice of Lin’s strong Christian beliefs. During games, Lin can often be seen wearing bracelets with the phrase, “In Jesus’ Name I Play.”
The bracelets are selling like hotcakes from supplier Active Faith.
Both Tebow and Lin have shined a light on Christianity and sports. So often media focuses on the improper behavior of athletes—whether it’s adultery, drug abuse, or simply rude behavior. It is refreshing to see national media shine a light on positive behavior, and even more importantly, God-fearing behavior.
As Tebow and Lin profess their strong Christian beliefs, they successfully expose people to Christ in an indirect way. How truly awesome.
So, as my friend and I wrapped up our conversation that primarily focused on negative things occurring in the world today, I reminded him that there were also some great things happening. Things like Tebow and Lin have done; things like spreading the word of God.
I came to the subject of this editorial on Sunday as my pastor, Rev. Tony McGee gave his sermon and referenced Lin (I incorporated Tebow on my own). Through his walk, Lin was able to inspire my pastor. My pastor in turn inspired me and everyone else in church that day. Hopefully I will inspire those of you reading this editorial.
Knowledge is power and actions speak louder than words. Pass it on.
(You can email comments to Shannon Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.)