The Modeling Wall

Not even Tim Tebow can make it ‘cool’ to do the right thing; just ask […]

David Browder / 12.4.09

Not even Tim Tebow can make it ‘cool’ to do the right thing; just ask Carlos Dunlap
By Ray Melick — The Birmingham News
December 03, 2009, 3:33PM

Tim Tebow’s teammates admire him, but apparently not enough to really want to be like him. (Associated Press) Last Sunday night, preparing to do “The Zone” on ABC 33/40 with Mike Raita and guest co-host Charles Barkley, Raita asked the question, “Has Tim Tebow made it cool to do the right thing?”

Barkley quickly answered, “No. First of all, there’s a lot of guys doing the right thing. But it’s a lot easier to follow the bad guy.”

I have thought about Raita’s question this week as we get closer to Tebow’s final SEC game. Everyone seems to agree he’s been a positive influence, a role model, everything that we say we admire in a person.

But then Tuesday the news broke that one of Tebow’s teammates, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, was arrested and charged with a DUI at 3:30 in the morning, a time when most players were expected to be safely tucked in bed.

Dunlap, a junior who could be a first-round NFL draft choice this spring, has been suspended for the game.

Certainly no one has been in a position to be positively influenced by Tebow more than the Florida players. And yet Dunlap is just one of many off-field problems the Gators have had over the last few years.

Which only goes to prove that, as much as we’d like to believe otherwise, not even the Heisman Trophy winning, two-time national championship winning quarterback can make it “cool to do the right thing.’ Not when it’s so much easier to do our “own” thing.

But I do admire him for trying. (Original article is here)

In the Christian subculture, you hear a lot about “mature” Christians “modeling” behavior in their communities (and I’ve never heard Tim Tebow say this, to his credit). As much as one can say about how obnoxious the claim is, there is a more important thing at work here.

The important thing is not orthodox in a Christian sense because it assumes everyone is walking around with free will. Objective reason is the dominant force of their being. They see one of these models of behavior and think, “Of course. Since I am objectively reasonable and have free will, I will choose to pattern myself after this person.”

Free will here is usually accompanied by a strange, detached “cause-and-effect” thinking or “karma” (to dive into pop spirituality). If goodness is sown, goodness will be reaped. The right thing always results in the desired effect. There is a lot to be said here regarding what sin actually is, but I’ll save that for my next post (hint: Modern Victorian ethics are always more popular than blood Atonement).

The writer of the article, Ray Melik, has actually come upon an important insight. Tim Tebow is as fine a fellow as they come (even though I hope my Crimson Tide pounds the Gators this Saturday). He is supremely accomplished and does the right thing (at least publicly/so far) from the view of societal behavioral norms.

The interesting thing is that even one of his stature cannot “make it cool to do the right thing”, as Melik notes. Interesting. Example is not changing behavior. In fact, if one is to read sports message boards, there is a significant Tebow-fatigue or Tebow-backlash. Example or “modeling” actually provokes what it does not intend. I wonder why 😉 I wonder if the posts and discussion on our beloved Mockingbird can shed light.