The Psychology of the Love/Hate Tebow Complex

On Tebow:

Disclaimer: The idea for this post has been swirling in my head for a good long time now. It has nothing to do with mechanics, footwork, throwing motion, or whether Tebow will be successful. I think we have all had enough of that.


Why is Tebow so polarizing? What makes some love him and others hate him. This reminds me of the Civil War (bear with me). Communities, families, friends, and experts are all divided, warring with words over this "Tebow Thing."

Take an open minded jump with me.

First, lets try to clarify the situation. Expert analysts are either irrationally supportive, or harshly critical of Tebow. There are few who are middle of the road, or within the norms of support/criticism. (Most of of our beloved staff fall into the Swiss category with a slight shade of extra support since they are, first and foremost, Broncos fans) Skip Bayless would be on the irrationally supportive side, while Merril Hoge would fall under unwarranted criticism.

This will serve as our starting point. Its not perfect, but I feel it will do for a basis of comparison.

Why is Tebow so gosh darn polarizing? He is a good guy. Someone you could easily play 9 holes with, or invite to a BBQ. He has never been in trouble, is humble, a hard worker, good teammate, and fantastic with the media, and the pressure that comes with it (when have you ever heard Tebow not say the right thing?) So what gives?


Opposing Views

I think this all started with two opposing view points. Tebow will or will not be drafted in the first round. Although it was a complete shock that he was drafted in the first round (I'm guessing because no one actually thought a team would do it), some folks were advocating it. Tony Dungy stated he would take him with a top 10 pick, and Bill Belichick was flirting with spending one of his three second rounders on Tebow, which was still way above general consensus. Obviously all the "Draftniks" had him much later, some if at all.

This grew to "probably will/probably wont succeed in the NFL," and then to "Will/Wont succeed..."


Digging In

Strange things happen to folks when they make their opinions public. Sigmund Freud calls it a "defense mechanism" (and trust me, I'm using Freud's interpretation very loosely). I believe this whole thing started with Rationalization.

Rationalization ... involves explaining an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner"

To me, whoever thought Tebow wouldn't be drafted in the 1st round, and voiced this opinion publicly, now feels they need to save face. They step the game up and say "Ok, he went in the 1st round. It's a huge mistake on the part of the Broncos, because he cant succeed in this league. He doesn't have the tools, which is why he should have NEVER been drafted in the first round!" Conversely, comments like these make his supports look wrong, and they need to save face. They revert to rationalization, and become part of the chain that has escalated to this stage.

This brings me to my next point...

The Snowball Effect

I could be wrong, but I don't remember much "hulabaloo" about Tebow early last year. If there was, it wasn't half as bad as it is now. Why the discrepancy? Why was Tebow merely a fly in Hoge's ointment this time last year, and now he might as well have called his mother a dirty word? 

Late last year Tebow made 3 consecutive starts, had 3 consecutive good games, and almost led a terrible team to victory (won 1) in 3 consecutive games. 

This made Hoge look foolish. Wasn't he the guy that swore up and down that Tebow would fail? His criticism turned to frustration, his frustration to anger, his anger to hatred incredibly sharp criticism. Like the dark side in a young Jedi, the rationalization snowballed and built upon itself, and we have witnessed the result.

(Let it be known that these principles apply just as much, if not more, to the lovers, who make outlandish predictions based on small sample sizes in response to either Tebow's nominal success, or to his harshest critics. It is not my intention to single out the hate side, but in the interest of brevity, i wont outline step by step how the loves think. I think its pretty self explanatory.)


By the end of this season everyone will know exactly what Tebow is capable of (hopefully). 

This doesn't automatically mean that the Love/Hate will end. If Tebow fails, his critics are proven right, and his supporters will rationalize excuses (Fox sabotaged, not enough talent around, etc.) God only knows what doubters will say if he succeeds.

Resolution only comes with accepting the result, and dealing with it in a healthy way. In other words, acting like the adults/paid professionals that analysts are. 



If you have stuck with me this long, i greatly appreciate it. I hope this provokes some thought, and good conversation. Maybe this helps temper expectations/criticism. 

As always, comments are also greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Trapped in O.C.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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