I feel sorry for Tim Tebow, the awesome quarterback for the University of Florida 'Gators, not because he has a terrific future in front of him. But because people cannot seem to blog about him without tossing in his missionary trip to the Phillipines during the 2008 spring break.
During that trip, Tim took part in circumcising Filipino boys who almost all get circumcised in that country. Circumcision is a rite of passage in a country that is about 95% foreskin-free. To be uncircumcised is to be "supot" or "pisot." Both words carry a negative connotation far beyond the simple expression "uncircumcised," the literal translation. If you call another dude supot, it's like saying he's unclean, a baby, and unworthy to be a man.
While some college kids go on drunken debaucheries during spring break, Tim was helping out his father on a mission trip. Here was the account at the time:
"In an impoverished village outside General Santos City in the Philippines, Tebow helped circumcise impoverished children. On the Friday of a weeklong trip to the orphanage his father's ministry runs in Southeast Asia, Tebow assisted with the care of locals who had walked miles to the temporary clinic that the ministry helped organize. More than 250 people underwent medical and dental procedures, some of them from "Dr. Tebow," who has no formal surgical training."
"The first time, it was nerve-racking," he said. "Hands were shaking a little bit. I mean, I'm cutting somebody. You can't do those kinds of things in the United States. But those people really needed the surgeries. We needed to help them."
"Tebow didn't plan on operating that day in the Philippines -- his job was to preach to the hundreds of people before they had teeth pulled or cysts removed. But as the day rolled on, he grew curious about the three Filipino doctors and his friend, UF graduate and aspiring doctor Richard "R.B." Moleno, in the bus-sized vehicle that served as a mobile hospital.
"Tebow started as a helper and gofer, holding tools and running errands for the medics. By afternoon, he was asking questions and looking for more active ways to help. And by the end of an exhausting day, he was wearing gloves and a mask, wielding surgical scissors, finishing off stitches with a snip."
In my view, Tim Tebow's public service circumcision of Filipino boys is something to praise, not ridicule. But, of course, the media is the media. And Tebow is a lightening rod. I just hope as he enters the NFL, he'll remember how important it is to promote a clean-cut, foreskin-free country both here at home and in Asia, too.