What is it about Tim Tebow?

Why is Tim Tebow so polarizing?

Because the magnitude of Tebow has overtaken most of what the rest of the Broncos have been able to accomplish on this run.

Because he’s different than the other quarterbacks we’ve superficially deified – the cult of personality. Tebow hasn’t been charged with a crime. He doesn’t have any children out of wedlock. He might have a speeding ticket, but that’s about it. He’s less TMZ and more Teen Nick.

Because he has been superficially deified. Maybe “venerated” is a better word.

Because he continues to push his religion onto the public – a display of piety in the otherwise secular arena called sports.

Because there are skeptics – and cynics – among us.

Because he is not a prophet.

Because Denver has a love-hate relationship with any quarterback not named Elway. (Are the skeptics – the agnostics, if you will – simply waiting for the fall?)

Because we are scared of someone who will challenge our beliefs.

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Thank you for sharing, in 140 characters or less …

See, athletic directors have a sense of humor, too.

After an otherwise lackluster Saturday Night Live episode with Katy Perry (acting, not singing) and Robyn, the only bright spot was Stefon, Weekend Update’s correspondent and resident club kid.

Watch Stefon’s Christmas recommendations here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/200104/saturday-night-live-weekend-update-stefon

Jim Fiore, Stony Brook University’s athletic director, tweeted one of Stefon’s lines from last night’s episode, one of many Stefon references within the Twitterverse. But consider the messenger, not the message. How many times do you see a person of that stature post something out-of-character? And humorous, to boot? It’s kind of a shame we don’t see a sense of humor all the time from the higher-ups.

With changes in technology, Twitter is becoming a bit of a window into a user or public figure’s personality. And, sometimes, it can serve as a window for team personnel to cut out the proverbial middle man – to direct their own message.

In college athletics, it seems that coaches and athletic directors from the smaller schools who use Twitter are a little more plugged-in and a little more animated on their microblogging accounts. You get glimpses into their personalities.

Derek Schooley (@derekschooley), the hockey coach at Robert Morris University, has used Twitter to discuss Jersey Shore, to profess his love of the St. Louis Cardinals and to promote his hockey program.

When it was brought up during a Colonial Athletic Association teleconference in November, Towson football coach Rob Ambrose (@Coach_Ambrose) didn’t think anyone actually read his Twitter account, but added this:

Maine women’s basketball coach Richard Barron (@CoachBarronUMWB) and his staff are also on Twitter, but when I asked him about it earlier this year, he said he uses some discretion in posting. “I mean, I’m not going to tell the world ‘I just ate a cheeseburger,’ ” he said.

Of course, there are some tense moments in the world of Twitter, like Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke’s statement about some media members, in the aftermath of the James Reimer/goalie-switch incident.

(moral of the story – don’t trust anybody.)

Or Florida Panthers President and CEO Michael Yormark (@panthersyormark), who is an active user of Twitter, but who had this to say to NESN commentator Jack Edwards after Florida’s 2-0 win Dec. 8 at Boston.

(moral of the story – don’t count out the Cats)

So, whether the message is good, bad, humorous or conveying an agenda … there’s a medium for that.

Nordic imports

Earlier this week I got the chance to speak with Plymouth State goalie Jack Astedt for a story I wrote for USCHO.com, and I asked him something:

“Why are we seeing more players from Europe, particularly from Sweden, coming to the United States to play hockey?”

Such as …

Gustav Nyquist, who played at Maine and who now plays in the Detroit Red Wings’ farm system;

Jarkko Ruutu, who played for a year at Michigan Tech and played in the NHL from 1999 to 2011 before returning Finland this season;

Carl Hagelin, who played at Michigan and who is now in the New York Rangers’ farm system; The Wall Street Journal just ran a story on Hagelin, who’s having success already at the start of his pro career;

and Viktor Stalberg, who played for three seasons at Vermont and who is now with the Chicago Blackhawks. Stalberg’s younger brother, Sebastian, is a junior at Vermont.

Astedt, who is a junior at Plymouth State, a Division III school in New Hampshire, may not be able to speak for every Swede in college hockey, but offered his explanation: after a player finishes his time at the junior-hockey level in Sweden, there aren’t as many opportunities to continue playing hockey, unless you turn pro.

“In Sweden, you can’t play college sports or university sports in a high-skill level,” he said. “When you go to high school, the high school has no connection with their junior team. The biggest difference, after you play junior hockey back home, you either play pro or you have to slow down and maybe stop developing. But if you can’t go pro, you take the alternatives, where you can play.”

Astedt added that there’s a certain uniqueness in playing college hockey.

“It’s an honor to play for the students, the teachers and the teammate and (Plymouth State). It’s something that we can’t really offer at home. But we feel a lot of pride playing for the organization you play for (in Sweden).”

***

And in speaking with Astedt, I remembered something I like about Europe – there’s more of an emphasis on enjoying life, on forming bonds with people and taking the time to be social, instead of going through the motions in our own little bubble, unaware of whatever and whoever is around is.

I was also reminded of this when I went out west two weeks ago and talked to several people during various airport layovers. Ricky, a college student from Oklahoma, and I talked about our experiences overseas and he likened it to this: Europe is a socialist nation. And what’s the root of socialist? Social.

So, who do you trust?

Yes, you have the right to trust people. But you also have the obligation to be skeptical. Because chances are, they’re lying to you. Or not telling you the whole truth.

This Chris Pronger medical mystery and this Sidney Crosby funny business have further convinced me of it. So does the brouhaha surrounding Colt McCoy.

The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that Pronger, the Flyers’ captain, will be out indefinitely because of concussion-like symptoms. After Pronger missed time off because of a knee injury and a virus that included headaches and nausea.

From the blog of Flyers beat writer Anthony Sanfilippo, who covers the team for the Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times, on Pronger:

We knew it when the word “virus” first came out of Paul Holmgren’s lips.

We knew it when we saw Chris Pronger doing an off-ice work out a few days later – because nobody with a nasty contagion would put his teammates at risk of catching the same illness by hanging around them in the Petri dish better known as a hockey locker room.

We knew it when Pronger first spoke to the media following the announcement of the virus and he debunked that diagnosis and said it wasn’t a virus.

We knew.

The Flyers just chose not to acknowledge it – until today.

Pronger, who was already on the shelf until Christmas recovering from a minor surgery to clean out some loose bodies in his left knee, is now out of the lineup indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms.

Crosby, meanwhile, is sitting out two games after experiencing a “slight headache” during practice earlier this week.

Media outlets didn’t originally report or break this information. Instead, the Pittsburgh Penguins released the information on their website – state-run media, if you will.

An exchange on Twitter from Pittsburgh Post Gazette beat writer Dave Molinari, who covers the Penguins, on Crosby’s two-game absence this week:

Because more organizations are controlling the message. And, in some ways, they don’t want people to know the truth, as a way to protect their own interests. Meanwhile, reports are floating around that, again, Crosby’s absence could be longer.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy sustained a concussion in Thursday’s 14-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but returned to the field to play … and faced the postgame media in a carefully controlled environment. From the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Browns Coach Pat Shurmur said McCoy was well enough to return to the field, but his father said that McCoy, who suffered a concussion in high school and at least one with the Browns, was anything but fine.

“After the game, the [media relations staff] made sure Colt’s interview was brief and he couldn’t face the lights in his press conference,” Brad McCoy said. “The TV lights and the stadium lights were killing him. Why would you say he was fine? That makes it even worse.”

So, who do you believe? Or do you seek out and extricate the truth and the facts – and whom to trust – yourself?

No, actually, that guy does not suck.

“That guy sucks” is the oldest, lamest and biggest cop-out of an insult that you can use to characterize a person, place, team or thing’s supposed inferiority.

When you say Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin or the Lakers suck or Duke sucks, you’ve lost the game. You’ve hit the bottom of the barrel. You’ve embraced the lowest common and least credible denominator of insults.

You have basically run out of creative ways to insult them. Because, clearly, they don’t suck.

Instead, you’re just telling the world that you are well beneath the point of trying to argue their supposed inferiority.

Use your own facts, not mine

So this morning’s story on Stephen Glass’ plight to persuade the California Bar to grant him admission – written by Jack Shafer of Reuters – brings to light Glass’ latest argument regarding his moral character: He was tormented by his family into being a dishonest reporter. Is it a plausible defense? Or another fabrication/manipulation by Glass?

Glass, if you remember, fabricated story after story for the New Republic before he was fired and his stories scrutinized, post-publication … and was portrayed by Hayden Christensen in the movie, “Shattered Glass.”

Now, Shafer writes:

The legal argument under debate in California isn’t whether Glass made stuff up willy-nilly in his journalism. That verdict was delivered long ago; you can read the eye-popping details in Buzz Bissinger’s September 1998 Vanity Fair feature. The question before the California Supreme Court is the 39-year-old Glass’s current moral state, and whether he has sufficiently rehabilitated himself to practice law today.

Stephen Glass clearly has the gift to manipulate. It’s probably what would make him a good lawyer. But his lastest saga raises some questions in regards to plagiarism, and whatever motivation one may have to fabricate or plagiarize:

Is there any redemption for committing plagiarism?

Or for those who enable plagiarism?

Why do some journalists fabricate or plagiarize?

I got a little into it on Twitter this morning, and will expound here. Because I hate to make a point 140 characters at a time.

In the spring of 2009, a Google Alert landed in my email box with a link to a blogger’s story on a local hockey prospect … a story that included the quotes that ran in a story I wrote earlier that spring.

Houston, we have a problem.

My editor confronted the person who ran the blog. It was an unpleasant exchange, and I’m indebted to the editor for defending the work and the brand.

Later, I confronted the blogger. His answer? “The original links to your story didn’t work.” So, um, you lifted the quotes instead and used them in a completely different context? (The offending post was removed, by the way.)

Note to writers: Check your links. Better yet, interview someone yourself.

Another instance: my quotes and work were lifted again by a different outlet, work I’d written under a different editor.

Said editor would not handle the situation. “Imitation is a great form of flattery,” the editor told me, after I brought the instance to his attention.

So, wait. Plagiarism is flattery? Does that mean hell is just a sauna?

Even worse? Prior to that exchange, said editor told his staff to come to him whenever there was a problem with other media types lifting our stories. After that exchange, I asked a few more questions: Was this person really fighting for me? For my coworkers? For our department?

(Said editor is still employed and I am not. Go figure!)

It should be easy enough to know this much – don’t plagiarize. Or fabricate. Or let a good story get in the way of the facts. There’s no excuse for a lazy attempt at journalism. For fabrication. For cutting and pasting.

Or for blaming your parents as a reason for doing all these things.