[update below] Tim Tebow, for those who haven’t heard of him—and the majority of people I know have no doubt not—, is the quarterback of the Denver Broncos—that’s American football—, who is mainly known for wearing his religiosity on his sleeve and dropping down in prayer every time he completes a pass. Even in a sport rife with evangelical Christianity—where players and coaches assemble in collective prayer before a game, sometimes with the opposing teams together—, Tebow is considered over the top. Two of my lefty Facebook friends—who I doubt are football fans—posted links on Tebow today—the Broncos have a big game this weekend—, one on “the non sport’s fans guide to Tim Tebow,” the other asking the $64K question: “What if Tim Tebow were Muslim?”
How would our society react if during every interview, Tebow said “Insha’Allah” or “Allāhu Akbar” rather than thank his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Or instead of falling to one knee and praying, Tebow pulled out a prayer rug and faced Mecca?
To ask the question is to answer it. Duh. In reading the piece I thought right away of France and Franck Ribéry, the big time soccer star who plays for Bayern Munich and has had 56 appearances so far with the French national team. Ribéry is a great soccer player—though with a less-than-great intellect (he is challenged between the ears)—, a good ol’ boy from Boulogne-sur-Mer, and a convert to Islam. Before every game he raises his hands in Muslim prayer—stands in salah—and possibly during the game as well. The TV cameras—at least for the national team games—zoom in on him during the act but with no commentary. Everyone sees it, people talk about it, but the media does not mention it, at least not so far as I’ve seen. It’s the unmentionable subject. But if he were an evangelical Christian and kneeled à la Tim Tebow, that would be different. Impossible. Not in France. Il y aurait un tollé, c’est sûr. UPDATE: The comedian and TV host Jimmy Fallon does a great mash up of Tim Tebow and David Bowie: Tebowie. Hilarious! Here he’s with Nicolas Anelka, also a Muslim convert. His wife is from Algeria.