Jeff Pearlman

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On Tebow and lacking empathy

Screen Shot 2019-09-13 at 9.59.42 PM

Much was made of Tim Tebow’s comments from earlier today, when he said that college athletes wanting to get paid was ruinous. His words, on ESPN

“I know we live in a selfish culture where it’s all about us, but we’re just adding and piling it on to that where it changes what’s special about college football and we turn it into the NFL where who has the most money that’s where you go. That’s why people are more passionate about college sports than they are about the NFL. That’s why the stadiums are bigger in college than the NFL because it’s about your team, about your university, about where my family wanted to go, about where my grandfather had a dream of seeing Florida win an SEC championship and you’re taking that away so young kids can earn a dollar. And that’s not where I feel like college football needs to go.”

So here’s what I never get about white middle-to-upper-class conservative athletes from American team sports. Or, I should say, here’s what disappoints me: Tim Tebow was raised comfortably. A family that could afford things like cars and nice clothing and meals out. Which is fine. But he played alongside, oh, hundreds upon hundreds of teammates who were raised anything but comfortably; who were brought up via a single parent working two or three jobs; who wondered whether the next meal would be dinner or a subsidized scrapple-and-unidentified-meat breakfast at school; who studied out of 15-year-old texts (the only ones the school district could afford) and looked left and right as 70 percent of their classmates dropped out.

Tim Tebow ate with these people. He huddled with these people. He prayed with these people. He surely knew of their struggle, and knew how badly their families—unlike, say, the University of Florida—could use the money from jersey sales.

He apparently learned nothing from these people.

  • Paul C

    Typical Tebow incoherent stump preacher word salad.

    I’m guessing that he doesn’t actually read anything except the Bible, but he really, really, really needs to read Taylor Branch’s magisterial longform 2011 article in The Atlantic, “The Shame of College Sports.” How about at least guaranteeing scholarships against injury and allowing Workers’ comp claims?

    Also, players are supposed to play for good old [fill in the blank] U because they love the game and love the school, but it’s OK for the COACHES to be pure mercenaries?

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

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