As the current sports world becomes increasingly littered with countless reports of infidelity, disloyalty, gun crimes, cheating, gambling, and drug abuse, parents are left struggling to instill the proper personal and competitive values in children. The seemingly “perfect” Tiger Woods became mortal in an unprecedented fall from grace, due to his extramarital affairs. “Agent Zero,” Washington Wizards All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas, faces suspension and the possibility of jail time, stemming from unlawful gun charges. New cases of illegal performance-enhancement or drug charges enter the news nearly every week. Professional athletes are inevitably placed on a pedestal by the media, fans, and our children. Seemingly invincible on the field or court, our favorite athletes and coaches are ultimately mere mortals in their private lives. Athletes’ positive contributions are far too often overshadowed by negative reports, but there simply exists no absolute way to know a child’s role model will not falter. Parents must become more educated about children’s role models, use suggestive influence, and emphasize the positive work of today’s athletes, such as former University of Florida quarterback and college graduate, Tim Tebow. Tebow has consistently displayed unrivaled professionalism, leadership, compassion, and legendary athletic prowess throughout his college career.
On the Field: The accolades of the two-time BCS National Champion and Heisman Trophy quarterback at the University of Florida are second to none. Tebow compiled record-setting totals for total offense, total touchdowns, and rushing touchdowns in SEC history, and an astounding 35-6 record as a starter for the Gators. During a distinguished four-year year career, Tebow passed for 9,285 yards, 88 career touchdowns and only 16 interceptions, in addition to 2,947 rushing yards and 57 touchdowns on the ground. More impressively, Tebow asserted himself the quintessential leader with passionate displays of emotion, such as his post-game speech after a disappointing loss against Ole Miss, now immortalized as “The Promise.” His famed halftime speech during the National Championship still delivers chills. Watch and discuss them with a child.
Tebow’s future success as an NFL player remains debatable as a likely late-first round to second round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. However, Tebow’s leadership skills, diligent work ethic, wholehearted willingness to put the team first and even change positions if necessary, and devout preparation in the film and weight rooms are all great coaching points to emphasize with the athletes of tomorrow.
Off the Field: Amazingly, Tebow’s role as a positive role model is even more impressive than the competitive accomplishments. Tebow, a devout Christian, inscribes various scriptural references in his eye black on game days, as a means of witness and self-motivation. Tebow puts preaching into practice, by regularly performing medical mission work in the Philippines with his family in the summer. In a question and answer session with New York Times writer, Pete Thamel, Tebow expresses his desire to use sports as a powerful platform for outreach and aid his fellow man, by establishing a variety of foundations, charities, and orphanages. The past two years, Tebow also initiated a highly successful “charity week” in the Gainesville area. In addition to Tebow’s altruism and on-field achievement, he graduated from the Family, Youth, and Community Service Program at the University of Florida with a 3.7 GPA.
Tebow is scheduled to appear in an anti-abortion Super Bowl commercial, entitled “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life,” sponsored by Focus on the Family. While watching the big game with a child, use the opportunity to discuss the individual freedoms protected by the American government, respecting others’ opinions, and Tebow’s courage for supporting his personal beliefs, regardless of personal stance on the specific issue.