Tim Tebow and the Art of Frat-Guy One-Upmanship(TM)
In the media roller coaster that is Tim Tebow, it’s clear that the backlash to the backlash has begun, and the whole discussion has become self-aware. It’s captured the zeitgeist—my parents are talking about it (though they keep calling him “Tom Skreebow”), the hipsters are talking about it ironically (“Tebow is SO good at football and football is SO important”), and everyone in your office is talking about it (“How’s the coffee today? Still bad? Ha! Not as bad as this weather! Am I right?! Anyway, how bout that Tebow? Also, I took 35 Tylenol PM last night to try to kill myself, but I can’t even get that right—anyway, boss needs those reports…”). Yet, through it all, Merril Hoge has remained steadfast: Tim Tebow is a bad quarterback. Normally, this kind of dedication to taking down guys like Tebow is reserved for ex-girlfriends and the Securities Exchange Commission, but Merril Hoge clearly has another agenda. He’s got a bad case of Frat-Guy One-UpmanshipTM.
Allow me to explain. I was in a frat, duh, and every time I find myself at a bar with a friend of a friend who also happened to be in a frat (we can sniff each other out like GHB-carrying dogs), we introduce ourselves and immediately start this dance: first we talk about how awesome Eddie Money is (but we always only refer to him as “The Moneyman”), then a discussion of which AXE body spray smells the best, and at some point we ask each other what frat we were members of in college. Then comes this: “That’s cool, the Betas were total nerds at my school, but every school is different, right?” Now, no one says that because they actually believe it—this motherf*cker is telling me this because he wants me to understand that he thinks my fraternity was also nerdy, that his frat is better, ipso facto he is better, and far more suited to sleeping with attractive women than I am. Now, of course this is pathetic, and you’d think that I’d never stoop to that level, but you’d be wrong. At this point in the conversation, there’s no chance that I’m letting this guy leave this bar without understanding that my pledging was much harder than his and that our parties were much crazier. We then proceed to spend the rest of the night buying each other increasingly expensive shots of whiskey that neither of us can afford, turning down any opportunity of fun, and attempting to subtly hint at our own superiority until both of us are eating calzones alone in our respective beds. Now, that’s how Frat-Guy One-UpmanshipTM usually ends. But sometimes, it can escalate—you get one jerk-off taking it too far and following you into the bathroom to compare pen*s size, or, worse, you could go on national television and tell someone that they suck at their job.
Now, I don’t know why Merril Hoge cares enough to take to Twitter, TV, messenger pigeon, and every other available medium to take down Tebow—maybe he’s the world’s biggest dickhead contrarian. Maybe he hates Jesus. But let’s be clear: no one cares. We live in a nation of one-upmanship, frat guy or otherwise; the most successful website ever exists almost solely so people can one-up each other (“tear down the Wall!”), “humblebrag” has become an official part of our lexicon, and, oh yeah, we’re in a national debt-crisis because no one can stand not having a jacket as cool as the next guy’s. And yeah, Merril Hoge, I know that football was much better when you played it, and that the National Football League is so important and tough; but do everyone a favor, and shut the f*ck up.
On Sunday, while Merril Hoge was somewhere in a dark cellar putting on lipstick and mumbling something about killing puppies, I was in a sun-drenched bar, watching Tim Tebow bring his team back to win for the fifth time in six games. It was awesome. I high-fived strangers. I bought someone a beer. I got drunk. I enjoyed football. And for a little while, I didn’t worry about Tebow’s religious views or passer-rating, I didn’t make a sarcastic comment about his affinity for Armani Exchange T-shirts. I didn’t get jealous of all the girls he’s titty-banged (still a virgin!). For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have an agenda. I just sat and watched a neck-less kid who wants to succeed win, and I was… well… happy for him. It was great—I wish I could have held onto that feeling.
But then some A-hole asked me what frat I was in…