Friday, January 6, 2012

Racial Resentment, White Novelty, and the Tim Tebow Phenomenon



ESPN has a great discussion on its website about the Tim Tebow cult of personality.

I am a Patriots fan. I loved watching Tebow get owned by Tom Brady. I also believe that Tebow is grossly overrated, and his popularity is a function of Christian Dominionist born again shtick and the "novelty" of a white quarterback with a "black" style of play. In many ways, Tebow is the Eminem of the NFL, with the latter being imminently more talented. Alternatively, we can suggest that Tebow is to black quarterbacks who play at HBCU's as white girls who are "thick" are to black women with the same physiques. One is "exotic"; the other is "ordinary" and "typical."

In all, the ESPN round table hits on a number of issues, and while they over read "racism" and "racial resentment" into the Tebow debate, the panelists are spot on in that a black quarterback who played like him would not get any of his shine.

Is Tebow the great white hope? And what does this tell us about race and sports--what should be the greatest of all meritocracies where none of these questions of identity ought to matter--but where the real world offers no such comforts?

16 comments:

Big Mark 243 said...

Damn... this was deep..! I just need to remember which one of you cats will be on 'Science Friday' later..!

Tim Tebow is similar to Eminem in that he brings something different to white America than they expect of themselves. I don't necessarily agree that Black Quarterbacks don't get the chance to be a Jake Delhomme (who came into the league the hard way and does not fit the paradigm of white quarterbacks for this discussion) or a Kerry Collins, first of all, because the black Quarterback is a recent (25 year) phenomenon. It has had to grow from exception, to possibility to now, widespread acceptance.

I can understand and as a black man commiserate with the brothers on how crazy white folks are for Tim Tebow. Going back to Eminem, it was the same thing. But he proved, just as black quarterbacks like Warren Moon and Randall Cunningham would prove, that you can not only be an 'item' but that you can represent different scales of the paradigm.

The hurt and pain in Kordell's voice when he spoke was evident... but Seneca Wallace still plays QB in the NFL... as to why there are no black journeymen quarterbacks, well, that is a slightly different question.

Like Tebow, Kordell had some mechanics that were skewed... but he got to play here and then there as well. It is tough when you are on the vanguard. When I think about the things that a journeyman does, be a 'gym rat', immerse himself in the profession and show up as well as cheese the right way, I wonder if that is what brothers are doing on the NFL level? Is it truly racism that is keeping brother out or is it that social values are different and black QB's don't move in the circles to be a journeyman?

Shee--oot! It is too early to tell with Tebow. He has quietly (I don't count a fan base as a player 'making noise' to start) plied his craft. And when he got in, he won games. The difference between him and say a Doug Williams is that the support, white christian dominionist or no, is behind Tebow and BUSINESS compels the management to start him in the short term, though in the long term, it may be unproductive.

I remember when the Lions drafted Andre Ware. He was an immediate washout. Now if the case for covert racism were to be made, it is this: Were all black quarterbacks who did not become stars like JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf? Ne'er do wells, whose sense of entitlement would not allow them to actually work as a 'professional' and become a tradesman/journeyman? How many more Seneca Wallaces or Brad Smiths are there, willing to forego their dream to change and be a part of the league? And what makes cats like Akili Smith and JaMarcus Russell so toxic that they aren't given another chance to be 'a bum' like Kerry Collins (another qb with a hitch in his throwing motion, that made him a prohibitive choice at qb despite his success at Penn State)

I don't have an answer or even a point to be made... I am jus' sayin'...

Oh Crap said...

I think Larry Byrd was probably the first actual great white hope.

Couldn't stand him, couldn't stand the Celtics because of him.

Constructive Feedback said...

[quote] Tebow is the Eminem of the NFL[/quote]

My dear friend Mr DeVega:

When given the choice between writing about "Tim Tebow - the great White hope for the White folks who purchase tickets and make many Negroes into millionaires"

VERSUS

"Cam Newton - Christian, Black Man, the most dominating Rookie Quarterback of ANY COLOR".........

What compelled you to focus upon Tebow?

I figured that Newton would be of more interest to you. A Black man in a leading role in the Southern state of North Carolina. More wealthy than all of the White folks in the stadium - except the team owner. The owner that got press because he suggested that Newton avoid getting "Tatted up" and instead keep his "Squeeky Clean Image".

Not trying to suggest that you can't write what you want to on your blog.
I am ONLY trying to gain a better understanding of your thought process.
By seeing two EQUALLY POWERFUL stories laying side by side on the table that captures the "2011/2012 NFL Season" WHAT ABOUT the "Tim Tebow Great White Hope" story made you send that to the presses?

Have you ever wrote about Cam Newton strictly from a "Performance" perspective - no racial considerations?

Do YOU view President Obama as "The Great Progressive-Fundamentalist Hope"?

Thank you in advance.

Xicano2nd2 said...

I am a Broncos fan and I love seeing Tebow getting exposed each and every time he is on the field. By the way, who is the player that sparked the comebacks? Not the quarterback that is for sure. Look to one receiver in particular.

Yeah, them whites sure want a hero 'cause they have nothing of substance when it comes to humanity.

E said...

As an atheist, my disdain towards Tebow mainly eminates from his overt religiosity. But this round table and post gives a whole new meaning to the controversy.

CDV, thanks for continuing to shine on these issues.

And about Mr. Newton, it's a good thing he's having such a good season, otherwise he would then get lumped in with the situations of Mr. Russel and Mr. Smith. Despite some of the other chronic low-performing QB's of other shades.

chaunceydevega said...

@Big. Thanks for the detailed comments. You offered alot of perspective. I am a casual sports fan meaning I follow a team, but I am not a stats person. I know a good amount about boxing and a ton about pro wrestling...yes, not a sport, I know, but athletic. It was nice to see a good conversation on the topic from ESPN. Tebow is a novelty, but the religious angle is what is carrying him--it fits right into the moment of white Right wing populism, and anti-obama moment, and evangelicalism's rise in a country in decline. Trust me, Tebow is the top guy with the Christians United for Israel crowd. Troubling. Not his fault...but it helps Tebow cash checks.

@Xic. I just want him to lose if they play the pats again.

@E. In thinking about Tebow it reminds me of Rush Limbaugh's complaint that the media wants black quarterbacks to do well...clearly not true.

@Oh. Don't be hating on my favorite basketball player of all time!

Thrasher said...

Another version of Elvis being worshipped by whites they love blackness when it is packaged in whiteness
Such a troubled culture those people.,lol lol

nomad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thrasher said...

@Nomad

To many to list here but I support gay marriages and the end of the DOD to start with

Thrasher said...

OC ditto on Bird greatest player in the world after one second in the nba he was super but white culture puts so much pressure on white athletes of course Hitler discovered that was wrong after Jesse busted their arses!!

MilesEllison said...

Quite simply, the fawning over Tebow is a classic double standard. If Tebow were black, he'd have been made into a running back or a tight end by now. And Tebow's abysmal passing skills would NEVER have been tolerated from a black quarterback.

chaunceydevega said...

@Constructive. How you doing this new year? Fair questions, which is why I will respond.

I don't have a metric or a rubric for what I write. I follow my instincts. I do that with my teaching and writing and interviews. Write down a few points follow the rhythm. No loss, take a risk.

Just is. Sometimes I win; sometimes I lose. I live with it.

You are very formulaic. I imagine you going up against Alexander the Great using your chariots because that has worked in every battle before. Then you get trapped and your forces destroyed in detail. I mix it up. So much of this is intangible.

Another analogy would be if you have two queens to choose from for the night, assuming you can't have both, sometimes the "prettier one" will not make you the happiest, your instincts say go with her friend who is also cute, and maybe sexier in a different way.

Get me?

You are too much of a doctrinaire thinker. Mix it up. You should have that in your blood given your obsession with "black progress."

You have a brand name constructive. That is a start. Now you need to leverage your persistence into something valuable that you could make money on and/or get more attention in a positive way.

You game?

marqueese said...

If Tebow were black nothing negative would have been said about him. A lot of black QBs got a shot because they are black. White Folks are just better QBs. The End.

Jeff said...

Many claim that were Tebow black he would not be afforded the same opportunity. People then go on to bring up Cam Newton as a sort of alternative. Isnt' Cam Newton from a bad family with a horrible father who fulfills many black stereotypes, contra the Tebows who are nothing but overtly good and positive thinkg?

The problem here is the binary black/white view of the world. Tebow gets attention because he is from a good family (something be celebrated, while single motherhood is to be shamed) that does good things. Because he is not great, he garners the extra attention.

The message blacks should take is this: don't go to the club, don't accept single motherhood, don't talk black, don't ask for money to play in college, have a great family, be good-hearted, do good things, and if you have a child that is good, but not great, everyone in the community will cheer for your son because everyone (at least the vast majority of people) want good people to succeed. That is all that is happening now with Tebow: a good person from a good family, who is borderline good enough, is being cheered on because he represents the goodness of America critical ways.

So many here are missing the point. I know many blacks don't mind pathological behavior in their athletes (the case of that vile Vick is illustrative), but it is very hard for middle class whites to cheer for bad people; respect them may be a different issue, but cheering is something else.

Don said...

Newton comes from a good family. His Dads a pastor.

Ragbag said...

It just baffles me how people act like Tebow is the only Christian football player in the league. For decades players have been dropping to their knees after a touchdown and praising god for their opportunities and accomplishments. Yet when Tebow did it somehow he became the only one who does it. Bottom line he's a terrible quarterback with no future in the NFL. That's it.