Tweet of the day – 3/27/17 #365project

ICYMI, Tim Tebow got a couple of at-bats today against Max Scherzer, one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. He struck out twice. He saw a 4th pitch in his second at-bat, so clearly he’s making progress…

I’ve not really weighed in on the whole “Tim Tebow tries baseball” phenomenon, so I’ll use this tweet to share some thoughts. They are likely very unpopular, but here goes.

I’m rooting against Tim Tebow, strongly. I’ve never really been a fan; he’s just not my cup of tea. The best article I’ve read about Tebow was “Tim Tebow’s relentless pursuit of failure” by ESPN’s David Fleming. In that piece, Fleming gets at the divisiveness of Tebow and his professional pursuits, but ultimately lands where I am:

And while Tebow has never developed into an elite-level professional athlete, there’s no denying he remains a one-of-a-kind marketing talent. Whether purposeful or not, he’s a genius at exploiting the myths, margins and moral vacuums in pro sports like a modern-day traveling tent-revival preacher: selling his gospel of earnest failure and emptying our pockets until his shtick gets old and he moves on to another sport, just in the nick of time. Tebow’s continued presence and influence says less about him and more about the sad state of sports, where fans have become so desperate for something they believe is honest, authentic and pure that they no longer care if it’s Tebow’s relentless pursuit of failure. They’ll take it.

But, Jon, failure is the new black!” you say. Or, “But, Jon, he’s just a guy chasing his dreams. How can you deny him that?” you ask earnestly.

Hogwash. First of all, for Tebow to “fail” is not the same as the average Joe who fails. He earned the Heisman Trophy as a football player, but from that point forward, he would always have a safety net. He’s a telegenic white male with Christian bona fides. If he “failed” at football, some TV network would come begging for him as an on-air personality (as they did). That’s not about failure; that’s about privilege.

When it was finally clear that he wasn’t a qualified NFL quarterback, he suddenly remembered his dream of being a professional baseball player. “They” said it was cool and that he wasn’t taking up a roster space of a young(er) kid who had been working towards his dream of playing pro ball for his whole life.  Again, I said hogwash.

In law school, I spent a lot of time learning about tort law. Specifically, when studying about “negligence,” I had to come to grips with what is commonly referred to as the “but for” test. In assessing whether an individual “caused” another person harm, one of the tests is the “but for” test. “But for the actions of the defendant, the plaintiff would not have been harmed.” If you pass the but for test, you establish causality and are on your way to proving negligence. Or something like that. It’s been almost 20 years since I graduated law school.

If we apply the “but for” test to Tebow in a slightly different way, I ask you this: “But for” being a Heisman Trophy-winning college quarterback who is loved and adored by many, would Tim Tebow have been given a shot at professional baseball by a MLB team? IMHO, the answer is clearly “NO!” Know any other 29 year-old guys being given a chance to play low-level minor league baseball where the average age is about 22 years old? Again, nope. That being the case, this isn’t about Tebow pursuing his dreams and his embrace of “failure;” it’s about privilege. And marketing opportunitie$.

And that’s why I’m rooting against Tim Tebow.


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