I should start this post by stating that I am a born-again Christian. I accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior and I am not ashamed to admit that. I’m not saying I am perfect as my faith is a continual work-in-progress and I have been known to stumble quite a few times. I’m also not a carbon copy of a typical Christian mold as I enjoy listening to hard rock, drinking a good beer, and smoking a fine cigar (all at the same time when possible). But this article is not about my personal beliefs or values. It is not about a great theological debate. It is not intended to stir up controversy. It is not meant to point fingers or call names. It is simply a way for me to get some of my recent thoughts into the open, if only to allow me to think through them more fully, and to allow for you to express your opinions on the topic if you wish.
There are two things that hopefully we can all agree on when it comes to religion and pop culture mixing: 1) a lot has changed in America since John Lennon sparked a national riot by stating the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus“, and 2) Tim Tebow has been a source of great debate in recent months for his bold stance for his Christian beliefs. It seems that almost every where you turn in the sports world recently, particularly with the NFL draft just hours from kicking off, there are tons of people praising Tebow for his unashamed display of religion while just as many others are ready for him to disappear to end his seemingly arrogant and in-your-face publicity. I for one am in both camps. I applaud a public figure not being afraid to state his beliefs, but I’m also not a fan of anyone who receives as much coverage as he has in the past four years; I appreciate his charitable work yet am annoyed at the constant mentions on SportsCenter. But when does it go further than what some Joe Schmoe like me thinks?
This morning when I was checking on my fantasy baseball league, this article caught my attention. In it, the author claims that Tebow’s religion could actually be a detractor from his draft value as NFL owners may be weary of the potential political implications of his historically outspoken religious views and affiliations. In an era where teams are lucky just to keep their starters out of jail and on the field, a player being labeled “too good” would seem preposterous. Yet that label is out there. If that is the stance of several NFL front offices, I have to wonder what the Hobby implications are for Tebow. Are collectors clamoring to get ahold of his cards or are they sick and tired of hearing his name and staying far away?
A quick search of completed listings on eBay does not seem to point in either direction. Tebow’s autographed cards are going for $70-$90 while more rare variations are demanding over $125. Compared to Sam Bradford’s autographed cards, this appears to be reasonable for a high-profile quarterback as the two young stars are generally selling for the same amounts. Tebow’s cards may be inflated a bit due to his Press Pass exclusive contract (and resulting lower supply of product), but that is hard to measure.
Personally, I enjoy when a player adds a scripture inscription or when a seller openly makes his religious views known. However, I wouldn’t say it affects my collecting habits at all. I don’t go out of my way to collect or avoid any player based on his beliefs. Likewise, I’ve never banned a seller or fellow blogger for having different opinions than my own, nor have I put one on a pedastool simply for expressing his convictions. To me, my God and my hobby are not mutually exclusive, but I also do not make decisions in either realm based solely on the other.
I am wondering what your takes are on religion and sports cards. Do you applaud and try to collect players who are openly religious? Do you hate when church mixes with anything else and infiltrates your autographs box? Are you impressed or offended when a player adds a Bible verse to his inscription? In a slightly different vein, are you turned off when an eBay seller adds “God bless” to your packaging slip, or are you more likely to be a repeat customer because you assume a Christian dealer will be more honest and fair? Or does none of this matter to you and you just buy and sell as if religion had no place in the Hobby, regardless of what your personal beliefs are?