Tebow and Tiger: Two Trending-Up Sports Heroes

By Scott T. Allison and George R. Goethals

Heroes usually don’t appear or disappear instantly.  Like buildings in an inner city, heroes are either being constructed or torn down.  People who enjoy a rising trajectory of accomplishment and fame are said to be trending upward toward heroism.  Fading heroes are said to be trending downward.  In earlier blog posts, we noted that Lady Gaga and Woodrow Wilson are examples are individuals who are trending upward and downward, respectively.

In the sports world, a couple of athletes appear to be trending favorably toward heroism.  A fascinating story is that of Tim Tebow, quarterback of the Denver Broncos, who is emerging as one of the most unexpected heroes in the National Football League.  When this current football season began, Tebow’s slow unorthodox throwing motion and frequent erratic tosses reduced him to a near-laughingstock of the NFL.  Very few people believed that he could succeed as a professional quarterback.

Tebow is somehow defying the odds.  He sat on the Broncos’ bench to begin the season and it appeared unlikely he would see any playing time.  But with the Broncos struggling to win games, fans began to chant his name, imploring Denver’s coach to give Tebow a chance.  On October 9th, late in a game in which the Broncos were trailing badly, Denver’s coach sent in Tebow.  He fell just short of singlehandedly winning the game.  Since that time, Tebow has engineered a series of unlikely, come-from-behind wins.  His powerful running ability, coupled with improved accuracy in his throwing, has endeared him to fans and teammates.  He also demonstrates quiet, inspired leadership.  Only time will tell if Tebow’s ascendancy to near-heroism continues into the NFL post-season.

Tiger Woods is also a unique story.  Earlier we blogged about Tiger’s fall from grace.   Throughout 2009 and 2010, his widely-publicized extra-marital affairs and possible sex addiction led to severe condemnations about his character.  Tiger’s leg injuries compromised his golf game and compounded his miseries.  He went from being the most dominant player in golf history to a complete non-factor in the golf world.

But over the past several weeks, Tiger Woods has become a changed man both on and off the golf course.   His knee and achillees heel are finally healthy.  On the course, Tiger is once again making spectacular shots and holing crucial putts.  He secured the winning point in the recent President’s Cup and won a golf tournament after a 2-year dry spell.  Perhaps most tellingly, Tiger appears happy and centered as a person.  Once aloof, Tiger has warmed up to the media and to his fellow competitors on the golf tour.  He has shed his inner-demons.  The fallen hero is now rising again.

Heroism is often in a state of flux.  A hero today is a goat or villain tomorrow, particularly in the sports world.  Tiger and Tebow may continue to enjoy success and savor the taste of heroic status.  Or they may plummet back to earth.  Such are the vicissitudes of heroism.  But today, in December of 2011, these two individuals are trending upward toward heroism.  We look forward to following their future trajectories.

13 Responses to “Tebow and Tiger: Two Trending-Up Sports Heroes”


  • This blog on trending heroes (upward or downward) confirms my belief that a critical element in examining heroes is the perception of the worshiper. Thanks for sharing your increasing knowledge of heroes and what makes them so.

  • I love Tim Tebow. He was given a really rough time when he was drafted. I’m glad to see him do well. Great talented player.

  • Once again, you’re the hero! Very well written, Scott. I like your uncompromising honesty when dealing with facts and your unending pointing toward the positive in any given situation. Thank you, my friend. I love Tebow and his unashamed expressions of faith. I hope that Tiger will succeed in expelling his demons. Let’s not judge his progress out of a dark place.

  • Well writen article, it is a shame that some sporting heros do get judged on there personal lives when we really only love them for there sporting abilty.
    Extreme

  • Its great to see top athletes perform and do amazing things. Both these guys are going to have a good 2012!

  • Maybe so but I still think all the best guys get most coverage and it takes away from the other players. All the hype and so on. What do you think?

  • Despite what people say about Tebow i think he is a hero to many in the sports world. He is just playing the game he loves. I love that he consistantly states that his list of top priorites are 1. God 2. Family 3. Football I love how he is not afraid to be honest about that. People should not consume themselves with a sport and let that dictate their happiness in life. I think Tim Tebow balances this well which makes him a hero. Regardless of what the announcers on ESPN say sunday morning or what the public or his teammates and coaches say, what makes Tebow a hero is that he sticks to his beliefs.

  • Tim Tebow is a hero to many because he has single-handedly reignited the Denver Broncos. He is an inspiration to watch because realistically he should not be doing so well as a quarterback in the NFL, but he is defying the odds. He does not have the usual quarterback abilities compared to other NFL quarterbacks such as Tom Brady or Drew Brees, but he is finding a way to win and makes people believe in him through his determined play. Does this make him a hero? Not too sure about that, but he has definitely mastered the role of a leader.

  • Tebow’s heroism stretches even further as he represents a hero in many Christian communities as well for his outward declaration of his faith. The problem with upward trending heroes however, is that there is always a chance for that trending to go in the opposite direction. Often this means people stop believing not only in the hero himself but in all of his values as well. Being a hero is a dangerous responsibility

  • I feel that Tebow brings to light the idea that heroism is in the eye of the beholder. I personally am not inspired by Tebow in anyway, but that may be because I am not religious and I am also not a Broncos fan. I appreciate the talk about his talent, but I am skeptical about giving him the label of a hero.

  • I am not sure Tiger Woods will ever regain his heroic status. His golf game seems to be in a constant state of struggle and he seems like a much different player under pressure. Most of all, the media scrutiny is unrelenting. So while he may not be on a downward trajectory, I doubt he will ever be the hero he was to many people, ever again.

  • It’s been really interesting….me being here in Colorado,and seeing all of the Tim Tebow talk. It’s almost irrational from a football standpoint.

    Granted, the guy has won his share of games in Denver in his first season starting, but there were sooo many people who aren’t even football fans that got on the wagon with him.

  • Throughout the past football season I certainly had mixed emotions about Tim Tebow, as I am not a broncos fan. I do, however, think it is inspiring that despite the doubts people had about him he demonstrated that he could be a great football player, defying all odds. Regardless of his talents, though, I thought that Tim Tebow and what he represents was blown out of proportion. I completely respect his priorities, God-family-football, however, I was slightly caught off guard when the term “tebowing” was coined. I am still torn with whether or not I would deem Tebow as a hero, despite my love for football, but now maybe that he was drafted to the NJ Jets I will soon rethink his heroism status! Go Jets!

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