Remember when divine intervention meant the parting of seas, flooding the world for 40 days, impregnating virgins, and destroying sexy cities with fire and brimstone? These days, depending on who you ask, Tim Tebow’s recent success might rank right up there with those awesome displays of dominance. And when I say “depending on who you ask,” I mean that if you ask Latinos to explain Tim’s 8-5 win/loss record this season, there’s an 81 percent chance they’ll say that there’s no rational explanation beyond an act of God to account for it.
I am not one of these Latinos.
When I first heard about the poll, I thought, “Damn it! Tim Tebow now belongs on the list of things people use to make fun of Latinos: Chupacabra, Santa Muerte, and the Virgin Mary water stain.” In some weird way, things like the Chupacabra and Mal De Ojo actually make sense from a superstitious point of view, in the same way believing in the Loch Ness Monster or Bloody Mary kind of makes sense. Though you might be fairly certain that those things don’t exist, you can’t really be sure, especially on a dark night in the forest. The problem with adding Tim Tebow to the Latino world of supernatural beings is that it takes away from the mystery of said folklore. Unlike the Chupacabra, who’s geographical origin is hotly disputed, we know exactly where Tebow came from. Unless Tebow’s actually a shaved Sasquatch who used a Ouija board to receive plays from the Almighty, where’s the mystery?
His success this season is just as easy to explain as his failures. Almost all of the Broncos’ wins came against teams that had .500 or less record: Dolphins, Raiders, Kansas City, Jets, Chargers, Vikings, Chicago. The only team the Broncos beat that had a winning record were the Bengals, who pulled off a 9-7 record (not very impressive). All of the teams mentioned provided an environment where their opponent always had a legitimate chance of pulling off a come-from-behind win. In any game where the Broncos were faced with a David and Goliath style match up, Goliath walked away victorious every time, which I don’t think happened in the Bible. But that’s how sports typically work, and these are things we already know. I mean, Angels in the Outfield wasn’t a documentary, right? But still, 81 percent of Latinos answered “yes” when asked if divine intervention played a role.
The only reason people associate God with Tim Tebow is because Lil’ Tim talks about God so much. If Tebow had attributed his successes this season to a radical vegan diet and ritually listening to Poison before each game, we’d see children all over the country eating compost and playing “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn” before a game. When it comes to sports, superstition and rituals always play a heavy role in the proceedings. There’s even a play called a Hail Mary, for Christ’s sake. In football, praying to God after every play makes as much sense as wearing dirty socks all season because you believe it affects your chances of winning.
I can’t defend the 81 percent of Latinos and I can’t attack them. The only thing I can say is that everyone on this planet has a few strange beliefs under their belt – whether it’s some kind of God or not wanting to step on a crack. The capacity to have faith in something is part of what makes us human, and when we look at the current social and political climate that Latinos in this country are facing, maybe it’s nice to have something they can believe in. It’s not like they’re saying Tebow is Jesus (though the Patriots pretty much nailed him to the cross on Saturday), they’re saying they believe in the capacity for faith to play a role in any one’s life. I mean, if a young QB with horrible throwing mechanics can make it in this country, then surely Latinos have a chance.