Earlier this month, Tim Tebow was asked, “How do you balance your career and your charity work?“ It’s a straightforward question, but Tebow responded with a heavy answer that no one expected.
“So much of handling sports is handling pressure. Well, what pressure do you have if you’re 0-12 and you’re at the plate versus someone that is fighting for their life? Versus someone that we picked up on the side of the street in Haiti because they were crippled or they’re not wanted or they’re thrown in the garbage? How do you compare those things? For me there’s not a comparison. And that’s why you’re able to handle sports as a game because it still is. Yeah, we can pursue it, we can give so much of our time, energy, and effort to it, but at the end of the day, I know that’s not why I’m here. That’s not my biggest purpose, it’s not my biggest calling. It’s not how I want to be known in my life—not as a football player, as a baseball player, as someone that worked hard to accomplish those things. I want my life to be so much more than that. I want to be someone that was known for bringing faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. And that is something that is a life calling for me and so it’s so much bigger than sports. But I am so grateful for sports because it’s given me a platform to be able to share and love and care for people all over the world so, I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”
Tebow is by no means a quiet athlete, but he never arrogantly calls for attention either. From his time as a star quarterback in college to his undeservedly short NFL career to his new career as an outfielder in the Met’s organization, Tebow has put his humanitarian work on the same level of athletics.
Every year, Tebow hosts a prom specifically for high school students with disabilities with his foundation Night to Shine. In addition to that, the Tim Tebow Foundation raised over $4 million in its first year in 2012, and has only continued to grow since ($6.5 million raised in 2016). Tebow also works as a motivational speaker and preacher, spreading his Christian faith to others. As much hate as he received while at Florida and while in the NFL, all fans can appreciate his philanthropy and dedication to the less fortunate. But Tebow, in my opinion, is wrong.
No – he’s not wrong about dedicating so much of his time to helping serve others. Nor is he wrong about raising money for others either. What he’s wrong about is that baseball or football or basketball or any other sport is just a game. Without football or baseball, Tebow would not have the platform to reach so many people. His ability to excel in athletics to a level only a small handful ever reach gave him the ability as a person to connect with more than just the people he knew directly. Everyone has a platform, but those like Tebow are in a position that allows them to reach out to so many people. LeBron James deliberately uses his platform every day, and he recognizes that when he says, “I am more than an athlete.” He is a role model to others, and he understands that when he speaks out on social issues or anything in general, a billion people will hear and judge what he says.
While Tebow is right, sports normally don’t have an impact beyond sentimental value, they do open up an endless amount of possibilities. Sports aren’t the be-all-end-all of things, and him going 0 for 12 is completely inconsequential compared to the fight of someone battling cancer, but sports give him the opportunity to give that person with cancer hope. Sports give him the ability to make inspiring statements and have an audience that hears them and appreciates them. Different athletes use their platforms as society’s celebrities to make an impact of their choosing. Tim Tebow’s choosing is quite clearly to serve others and show people what he stands for. Other athletes may choose to use their platforms in a similar way or waste the audience watching them, but it’s clear that these platforms would not exist without sports. So yes, every at bat has no comparison to the life of someone crippled on the side of the road in Haiti, but sports are so much more than “just a game” because of the fact that they can give that person in Haiti a chance for a new life through people like Tim Tebow.