Tim Tebow: The Most Lear Center-y Celebrity
Adam Amel Rogers
Adam Amel Rogers is a Project Specialist at the Norman Lear Center.
To this die-hard Denver Broncos fan, the past football season has been an unforgettable wild ride. My beloved team used a series of unbelievable last-minute comebacks to rise above their talent level and win their division and a game in the playoffs. In the process, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow rose to a level of fame that reaches far beyond the football field.
Few public figures exemplify the work we do at the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center more than Tim Tebow. The Lear Center studies and shapes how entertainment and media impact society; and over the past year, the Tebow phenomenon has traversed numerous societal categories that help explain his meteoric rise in both popularity and disdain.
Religion - The intersection of sports and religion is nothing new, but Tim Tebow has dramatically moved the needle on the public discussion of religion's role in sports. Tebow's overt and unapologetic religious references have made him a hero in evangelical communities and a villain among those who believe in the separation of church and sports. Religion became a regular topic on sports talk radio, and a recent poll revealed that 43% of people believe that "divine intervention" is at least in part responsible for Tebow's success. Following the Broncos legendary overtime playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, a common media meme was focused on how Tebow threw for 316 yards (like the commonly cited Bible verse "John 3:16"), on 10 (as in commandments) passes, for an average of 31.6 yards per pass (there it is again). Some took it even further, noting that he threw the pass to Demaryius Thomas, who shares a birthday with Jesus (December 25). Hyperbolic religious claims and criticisms became a regular part of discussions involving Tebow.
Politics - Tim Tebow has been perhaps the most sought-after celebrity endorsement of the 2012 presidential race. Although he has very smartly