- (Photo: The Christian Post/ Josephine Vivaldo)
- (Reuters/Rick Wilking)
Tim Tebow secured a spot on Time magazine’s "The Top 10 Everything of 2011” list.
The publication chose Tebow's signature "Tebowing" pose as No. 5 on its list of 2011's "Top Ten Memes."
The Denver Broncos quarterback first demonstrated the move in October after upsetting the Miami Dolphins in a close NFL football game. Much like the evangelical sports icon, participants now drop down wherever they are to one knee in thoughtful prayer. It's a behavior that's since attained meme status, spreading from person to person in culture by the practice itself.
"Typically it's wide receivers who are known to make a statement when their team makes an impressive play," wrote Nick Carbone, the Times writer who compiled the list. "That was, until Tim Tebow. The Denver Bronco's habit of dropping to one knee and bowing his head in prayer after a particularly successful play made him not only the most visibly faithful member of the NFL, but an internet celebrity."
Carbone wrote that "Tebow's prayerful pose, reminiscent of Rodin's Thinker sculpture" inspired a fan website at Tebowing.com that has since taken the move global. It now shows participants ranging from underwater divers to firefighters busting the move in locales as diverse as the Taj Mahal, the Sahara Desert and even the White House. Now a global phenomenon, it's raised Tebow's profile from famous football player to cross-cultural symbol.
Football fans follow Tebow on the gridiron for his hard work, heart and ability to win whatever the odds. The former University of Florida player took over from former Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton in October when the team was an abysmal 1-4. He's since helped transform the Broncos into a 7-5 squad, one that could likely win their AFC West division and make the NFL playoffs during the next few weeks.
On and off the field, Tebow is celebrated for openly practicing and promoting Christianity. The pro athlete wrote Bible verses on his eye black during games in college, and has since moved to quoting the Gospel on Facebook instead. Through games good and bad, he prays to God for success and support. Tebowing is merely the latest example of this trend, and one whose viral status is taking Jesus' message to believers and nonbelievers alike.
The show of sportsman-like conduct is surrounded by a host of other memorable memes from 2011 on the Times list. Taking the spot above Tebowing is "#Winning," a phrase used by actor Charlie Sheen to describe his debauched partying. It's now a common Twitter tag for an exclamatory display.
Beneath Tebowing at No. 6 is "Hipster Ariel," the trend of using Ariel from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" movie to make ironic or pretentious commentaries on society. Topping the Times list is "We Are the 99 Percent," a slogan of Americans' disenchantment with their country's economic disparity. It's now a rallying cry for Occupy movements all over the country.
Tebowing, for its part, remains a valuable part of popular culture for the moment. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn struck the pose Wednesday after winning the skiing World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colo. Tebowing.com shows that the alternative rock band Bush and members of the NHL's Colorado Avalanche hockey team have also gotten in on the act. Tebow, for his part, has endorsed the act so long as it remains focused on prayer.
"At least it's being talked about, and that's a cool thing," Tebow told Fox Sports in October. "If I can help be an example of that, then I look at that as a blessing."