God and Football

Even many of those who have no particular interest in football have heard the name Tim Tebow, the Denver Bronco quarterback who has played some spectacular football this year. (Although I don’t follow this closely, I gather it has not been uniformly spectacular.) Tebow is reputed to be a man of deep faith and his very public act of prayer following a successful scoring drive has become a source of widespread attention.

I just read the results of a national telephone survey that 43% percent of people surveyed believe that “divine intervention” is responsible for Tebow’s success compared to 42% who believe that God has nothing to do with Tebow winning. I’m shocked at how many people fall into the first category.

I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of Tim Tebow’s faith; indeed, everything I’ve read suggests that God comes first with him. I don’t for a minute, however, believe that God picks sides in a football game (any football game – even those involving Notre Dame) or that God has interceded in the Bronco’s football games as some reward or approbation of Tebow’s faith.

Is it possible that Tebow’s faith gives him a clarity of mind that helps his performance? Sure. I know myself that there are times when I know that things are so right between me and God and when I do much more than I could do on my own. (The plaque at the entrance of my study at home quotes “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.)

But that is a whole lot different from saying that divine intervention accounts for Tebow’s and the Bronco’s success. And actually, it seems to me to cheapen God to suggest that it does. I don’t doubt that God enjoys watching a good scoring drive now and then. But I suspect God equally enjoys the game whichever of his children wins it.

Update: Jim Martin, S.J., talks about Tebow and prayer here.