As we moved past the Super Bowl on the sports calendar, there was only one question on my mind.
What or who could we find to replace Tim Tebow?
After all, Tebowmania swept the nation for months stretching from the late Autumn and into the Winter. It was all Tim Tebow all the time. We had magazines, superheroes, hour long television specials, the Tebowization of First Take and seemingly EVERYTHING ON ESPN, and even the national news media soaking it all in. Do I need to remind you that SportsNation brought on Hulk Hogan to cut a 1980s style promo on Tim Tebow? Come to think of it, it's amazing we all emerged alive.
Tebowmania was a unique set of circumstances though. Here was a once in a generation athlete on a once in a lifetime streak of unbelievable wins that managed to captivate not just sports fans, but seemingly the entire universe. Everyone you knew had some sort of opinion on Tim Tebow. It could have been his funky release, his evangelical Christian values, how much credit he deserved for the Broncos success, whether or not John Elway and his coaching staff supported him (the most pointless of all Tebowmania related storylines) or even Tebowing. It was a nationwide obsession like we've rarely ever seen before in sports. But alas, when Tebow's season ended, so thankfully did Tebowmania (for the time being at least). Nobody in their right mind could talk Tim Tebow 24/7/365, after all. If Skip Bayless has moved on from Tebowmania, you know it's safe.
A funny thing happened though... as soon as the nation got out of rehab for its Tebowmania addiction, another craze has swept the sports world. It is simply known as Linsanity.
New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has developed into the story of the NBA season. By now you likely know the details of how Lin instantly went from anonymous D-Leaguer to putting 38 on Kobe and the Lakers in the World's Most Famous Arena and leading the Knicks on a five game winning streak. He's not just the biggest NBA story at the moment though, he's the biggest story in sports. His heritage, his background, the city in which he plays in, and the shock to his success all play a role in Linsanity.
In a way, this is the present and future of how sports are covered. We go from season to season in search of one person or one story to apply a clever hashtag to and treat as the most important thing that's ever happened in the history of forever. It is becoming the nature of the beast in covering sports. Our culture demands it.
So naturally, the temptation to compare the two biggest phenomena in sports in the last six months is too big to ignore. Tebowmania vs Linsanity. Linsanity vs Tebowmania. Which is bigger? Whose story is more unreal? Why are Lin and Tebow wasting their talents in sports and not dedicating themselves to stopping terrorism and ending global warming?
Go ahead and search "Jeremy Lin" and "Tim Tebow" together on Twitter and behold the seemingly inseperable bond that holds them together. There was even the predictable "Tebow inspires Lin" story that made the rounds. I'm pretty sure if the two of them were ever photographed in the same place at the same time, the universe would spontaneously combust in some sort of Reverse Big Bang.
Lin and Tebow do have some similarities. They are both significant role models in a sports world that has seen them become an endangered species. They are both outspoken about their faith (see this article in the New York Times for instance). They are both incredibly compelling athletes. But the truth is that Lin and Tebow's stories are actually quite different. Jeremy Lin is simply not another Tim Tebow. Here's why...