Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Improbable Season of Tim Tebow

by J. Scott Moore
Luck is often dismissed in sports.  Derisively by the losers.  Players and teams characterized as lucky are not often characterized as good, as well.  Surely the elite have their share of luck on occasion?  Perhaps it’s overshadowed by the skill and the execution?

For the Broncos, and more specifically, Tim Tebow, the run of luck is bordering on the unbelievable. 

Take week 14, the Broncos won in very unlikely fashion against the Chicago Bears when Marion Barber made not one critical mistake but two.  Running out of bounds and then fumbling the ball in OT. 

This sort of improbable story line is often unbelievable and trite in literary fiction.  A literary situation that many have addressed, but not quite like JRR Tolkien.  You may be familiar with Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings books that were adapted into the movies.  In his prequel The Hobbit, Tolkien uses luck as a pivot in his iconic novel.

JRR Tolkien seems to be writing the script for the Denver Broncos. 

But Tolkien took simple luck to a new level and coined the term "Eucatastrophe" to describe the happy ending of "fairy-stories."  He describes it as the "…sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears..."  If that isn't this Bronco season I don't know what is.

The situation that Tolkien calls the Eucatastrophe is exactly what we enjoy the most about sports.  It’s in fact the very essence of what is going on right now with the Tim Tebow mania.  On a seemingly regular basis Tebow has faced certain defeat at the hands of his opponent and yet some unlikely turn of fortune ends up benefiting the Broncos and enabling their victory.

This week it wasn’t enough that the Broncos were facing the mighty Steelers.  A late fumble by the Broncos’ McGahee seemed to spell doom, and yet the Broncos survived.  The Denver Broncos aren’t the only ones that have benefitted from Eucatastrophe.  Go to any rabid fan in any town and ask about their favorite sports team pulling their ass out of the proverbial fire.  They will have a story.  It’s the classic game that everyone remembers.

I like equating fairy tales with sports.  People often point out that those boys aren't in the real world anyway.  And sports do function as the ultimate story-time for many of the world's adults.  All of us that think we are all grown up and jaded and aren't affected by unbelievable happy endings and implausible heroes, better take a second look at that.  Because sports is all about fiction becoming fact.  It's just that we don't write the story; it unfolds before us on Sunday afternoons.

When the Broncos wrapped the season with three straight losses you wonder, where's that luck in that?  Well they still made the playoffs.

If you've ever read The Hobbit, you might have noticed that Bilbo, the "hero" of the story was nothing, if not lucky.  Then again, you may not have noticed it due to Tolkien's style of pointing out just how lucky Bilbo was time and again.  He managed to draw your attention away from how ridiculously lucky his main character was by pointing it out repeatedly.  At the end of the book, even Bilbo ponders the happy ending of his story.

Gandalf chuckles and says, "You don’t really suppose…that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit?  …you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all."  In other words this isn’t just for the benefit of Mr. Tebow, it’s for everyone’s benefit.

But to extrapolate on Gandalf’s point, someone other than Bilbo might not have been the perfect companion for this quest, the lucky number as he was dubbed.  Gandalf takes all the credit for picking the right companion for the quest.  Corollary: Tim Tebow seems to be the right guy for this quest.

Divine intervention, fate or faith?  Sometimes people are lucky.  Tolkien framed it as prophesy in his writings.  How about that old saying about the harder you work the luckier you get?

Call it what you want.  Tebow's got it in spades.  The question now is; is there any left for this Saturday?  I'm bettin' yeah, there's more where that came from.  Tune in Saturday for story time!!


1 comment:

  1. Terrific post! And let us not forget that Tebow, just like Bilbo, has had many companions to help him take advantage of his "luck" on this journey. Something I'm glad to see Tebow acknowledge also.