With news of grown men resorting to bullying on the Florida Gators campus, the ProFootballTalk.com story of Tim Tebow annoying fellow players with a prayer request seems to have slipped through the cracks.
While at the NFL Scouting Combine preparing to take the Wonderlic test, Tebow – an openly religious player – allegedly asked his fellow NFL hopefuls to join him in prayer before the exam. Said one of the players in response to the request:
“Shut the f—k up.”
Other players in the room laughed at the comment.
To be fair, Tebow came out the day after the initial story broke and vehemently denied it. He said he heard no such comment made by anyone in the room. However, ProFootballTalk.com’s source for the incident sticks to their story.
Tim Tebow has never been shy regarding his faith. During his collegiate career he publicly displayed his devotion to God with biblical passages written on his face. His time in Florida included a public proclamation of his abstinence until marriage and rejection of a Playboy affiliated event. He is a proponent of praying in the locker room, not because he wishes to force his ideology on others but simply because he wants the opportunity to pray.
The problem seems to arise when religious players want to spread their faith to others. Nobody – at least publicly – would bash Tebow’s devotion to his religion as long as he is not asking fellow NFL hopefuls or teammates to share in a prayer session with him.
The quick way to start up a media and fan firestorm is to dismiss someone’s race, religion, age, gender, or sexual preference. As soon as any of these personal issues are brought up, particularly in the form of sharing them with others, the legal analysis of “free speech” immediately begins.
Rather than bringing out the political pundits who can dissect what exactly our first amendment entitles us to, let’s try to examine both sides of the situation:
You’re a religious football player who wants to pray before a big event. Should you not be allowed to pray because you make others in the room uncomfortable? Is it right to let the comfort level of others in the room preside over your individual rights?
On the flip side, you’re now one of the other players in the locker room of a different faith. You are not deeply religious, and while you always have the option of denying a prayer request, you immediately feel like an outcast for doing so. You don’t want to be a bad teammate or a bad person, but your religious teammate is making it difficult for you to prepare for the game in a room where you are all supposed to respect each other. Are you wrong for not wanting to be exposed to your teammate’s prayer?
Which side of the debate are you on? Do you think prayer should be allowed in public team settings?