Reflections of a Gatorhater

I can’t decide on the one reason that I dislike Tim Tebow so much. Now I must say Tebow is certainly not the first Gator quarterback that I have had a hearty dislike for. In fact my dislike (aka hatred) for Gator quarterbacks goes all the way back to Kerwin Bell. Growing up in a home full of Gator fans just outside of Gainesville, Florida I found myself at a young age knowing anything was better than the orange and blue of Florida. Knowing that Florida State was a hated rival I settled on them as my Gator “fix”.

I absolutely despised Shane Matthews and when he led Florida to their 14-9 victory over the ‘Noles I felt that there could be no worse villain in the entire world. Of course as a 13 year old I was probably right. Just a few short years later I found out how wrong I was and that the worst was yet to come. In 1997 I found my dislike towards a Gator QB grow by leaps and bounds. For the first time in my life I yelled at the television screen, “be a man, stay down!” Unfortunately for me and my beloved ‘Noles Wuerffel just kept getting back up and up and up. In that battle on the turf of the Superdome my dislike for Florida QB’s was cemented in the back of Danny Wuerffel as he kept getting off the turf and throwing another touchdown pass.

As I grew older, moved away from Gainesville, and my life changed in ways that it does for a married man with children I found my allegiance switching. No longer did the Garnet and Gold capture my attention quite as much on Saturday afternoons. Now I found myself pulling for the Red and Black of the Georgia Bulldogs. Soon though the old feelings arose and I found myself rooting against a familiar foe. As a Georgia fan every Florida QB has been easy to dislike because they all have beaten Georgia and most of them more than once.

Tebow however is a conundrum for me. If I were still 19 as I was when Wuerffel led the Gators I know that I would find myself yelling at the TV, “KNOCK HIM DOWN. KNOCK HIM DOWN AGAIN!!” However I am not 19 and in fact this weekend I will not even be watching the game. I will instead spend my afternoon and evening setting up carnival games and handing out candy to kids who do not need any more sugar in their digestive system. You see I am now a youth pastor and therefore “should” be one of the guys espousing Mr. Tebow and his courageous stance that he has taken in how he lives his life… but I can’t. So why is it that I wish so desperately that not only would he lose this Saturday but that he would play badly and lose? Am I jealous; instinctively I wouldn’t think so but I had to at least ask myself if that was the case, and after careful consideration I agree that I am not jealous. Am I that big of a Gatorhater (that is one word in South Georgia) that I would put my religious convictions behind a football game? Now that certainly bore considering but I had to discard that reason as well as I gauged my reactions to games and found that I really hadn’t cared that much about football games the last couple of years and they certainly paled in comparison to my religious convictions many of which are the same at least on the surface as Tebow espouses. But I do find myself rooting hard against him this week and I want to know why, after all shouldn’t I be encouraging my students to be like Tim? Is it Tebow’s coach? Seriously, outside of Gainesville, Urban is not a well liked man as his penchant for poll padding has led to many ridiculous lopsided scores over the past few years and almost cost him and his team the services of Mr. Tebow this year when he left him in a game in an insane attempt to pad his stats in his quest for the Heisman. Now this issue really gave me pause but ultimately I realized that my problem is with Tebow and not his coach. In the midst of all of this I came to realize that this great dislike for Tebow was a fairly new emotion for me as just a year ago I had found myself pulling for him to win his second Heisman.

I finally wondered if in fact it was Tebow’s own arrogance that was causing me to dislike him so much. Now here there will be many that might say Tebow is not arrogant but if you were to listen to his press conferences and read what he has said in the last year it is pretty clear that he is a different man than he was before he lost the Heisman race last year. Tebow’s defense of his religious convictions have become more challenging and forceful and are not the same as the humble way in which he used to present himself. Now it seems that he almost dares someone to challenge him as to the veracity of his life. The cherry on the top was his refusal to speak to the media this past week after his abysmal performance and furthermore by his coach apologizing, yes apologizing for depending too much on his senior quarterback. Sure Tebow was upset but the question I ask is if Tebow might actually believe that he is really immortal. Could it be that he believes his own press?

I don’t know if just one of these issues is any greater than the other but I do know on Saturday that one thing will override everything else and it is simply that number 15 is wearing orange and blue and in the words of my 5yo son, “I just hope Florida loses.”

Published by Daniel M Harding

Husband, father, associate pastor.

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