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In Sports We Trust?

The 2011 NFL season has been overflowing with “Tebowmania.” The unorthodox quarterback of the Denver Broncos has pulled off miracle wins throughout the course of the season and he has not sheltered his religious beliefs from the media. In press conferences he’s sure to thank “the Lord” for each win and he has become famous for getting down on one knee during games and praying to God.

He has been praised about being a great role model for kids. Many people love the idea of having a “good Christian boy” that several people through the world can look up to.

This has sparked an issue that has not been present in the media for quite some time. It is the idea of the role of religion in sports and whether or not it belongs there.

First off, Tim Tebow is not the first athlete to make his religious beliefs known. For example, pitchers in baseball have been seen giving themselves the sign of the cross before they step on the mound and when batters hit a home run, how many times have you see that athlete touch home and point up to the sky? Basically, these religious gestures are something that occur all the time.

So if they occur all of the time then why has Tebow taken the world by the storm? The answer is simple. He always talks about his beliefs in God and has been one of the most if not the most outspoken professional athletes in regards to religion.

Everyone was made aware of his religious beliefs back when he was playing for the University of Florida. Our University has its own take on combining religion and sports. 

According to Dr. Marilyn McNeil, Director of Athletics at the University, student athletes can talk about their religious beliefs if they choose to do so. Since this is not a faith based school, athletes are not required to participate in any religious ceremonies. Religion is a personal value and will continue to be personal unless the athletes willingly choose to discuss it.

Athletes should be able to display their personal beliefs because the First Amendment gives them that right. People are allowed to voice their beliefs and do not have to answer for why they feel that way. A person’s beliefs should not have to meet the expectations of others.

People should judge athletes on how they play their respective sports, and not so much as what their personal beliefs are.

The idea of athletes showing their religious side is not that outrageous. Religion is something that guides people’s beliefs and helps them get through situations that come about in their lives. Too many times nowadays do you see athletes getting into legal trouble, being unfaithful to their wives, or cursing out the media. Tebow has sort of painted this new image of a good moral lifestyle that many people have caught on to and one that several athletes clearly do not go by.

In a way, it’s kind of sad how this whole idea of Tebow has captured the interest of so many people. For example, say there was an Islamic wide receiver in the NFL and after each touchdown he bowed down to the God he believes in. America would be critical of this celebration because it’s not the traditional idea of Christianity everyone believes in.

At the same time, we may have all witnessed a beginning of something new in 2011. Athletes may be voicing more of their religious beliefs, thanks to what Tebow does on a weekly basis, even if you don’t see it on a collegiate level. Does religion have a place in the sports world? The answer will differ depending on who you ask.