Friday, 18 November 2011

tim tebow, narratological quagmire

Oh brother. Most of my followers aren't NFL fans, for whatever insane reason. So, in a nutshell:

Tim Tebow was incredibly successful at college but most judges doubted that his skill set would translate into the professional game, where everyone is bigger, faster and harder. He sat on the bench while the Denver Broncos lost four of their first five games this season. He was inserted into the starting line-up and Denver have just won four of their next five, usually, like last night, after Tebow has played dreadfully by all traditional measures and then engineered a thrilling last-minute comeback, as per a particularly implausible television series.

The commentariat is having conniptions. The storytellers waffle about the fact he's dunked in some kind of intangible winner-sauce; the statheads freak out and say his teammates are digging him out of holes.

In addition, he's a fundamentalist Christian of a fairly extreme kind, which gets some people's hackles up and makes others claim any criticism of him is anti-God.* But then, everyone who meets him says he's a great kid, a genuine, straightforward, real-deal kind of guy who his teammates will do anything for because he'll do it right back. And so it goes. If you are a sports fan and in America, the bile, hysteria and so on are basically unbearable by now.

Still, you don't often get long articles in English newspapers dissecting the way commentators narrate stories. Here's my favourite NFL site doing it re Tebow. My favorite line:

There is just something special about comebacks. We'll call it Captain Kirk Syndrome: We have a hero, we know he's great, but he's getting beaten up. We see he's losing, but in our heart of hearts we know he is the superior man and cannot conceive of a universe in which our hero fails. This dovetails nicely into the American aversion to dramatic tragedy, but that's a conversation for another time.

(In other news, Go Devine Warhorses!, the Official Texas High School Football Team of Warhorses of Letters. They're playing Liberty Hill Panthers in the play-offs tonight.

* The hair in the picture is nothing to do with his religion. It's what his teammates got him to do when he was a rookie and he had to take a few pranks. So, in that sense, it is to do with his religion.


angelina said...

I wouldn't say it's unbearable, but I may just be extra good at tuning the hysteria out. Also, my team doesn't face him until week 15. I feel like (hope that?) the issue may have played itself out by then.

Robert Hudson said...

I should be less confident - I get large chunks of what I know from Football Outsiders, The Fifth Down and Hang Up and Listen (as is obvious to readers of this blog!) and I dare say they are three groups which would face the specific issue of Tebowmania more often and more annoyingly than anyone else.

(I am always childishly excited to find NFL fans here. I am also glad to have converted a load of non-sports fans into Tanier-readers, but that's different.)

angelina said...

I may be wrong about that issue playing itself out any time soon... *checks today's scores*

I try to opt out of a lot of the football commentary mania, despite being a huge fan of the sport. This allows me to avoid worrying about whether Jesus loves my team as much as he loves Tebow, but does sometimes leave me out of step with the rest of the fans. I'm glad at least that when the Patriots play the Broncos it won't be a game that matters a great deal in the Pats' season.

I really enjoy your writing about it! It's usually such an overwhelmingly American experience (flags, anthems, American beer and truck ads, etc.) that it's great to have someone outside that give a new perspective. I've been noticing more baseball fans from the UK lately as well - are these games suddenly more available to watch than they used to be?