Denver Broncos’ rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was presented with the Academy’s 2009 Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award on Tuesday, 12 October, in Denver by Academy Trustee Emerita Dr. Evie Dennis.
Tebow is the youngest winner in the history of the Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award. Prior to being drafted in the first round by the Broncos, he started for three years for the University of Florida Gators, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and national championship in 2008. His on- and off-the-field actions as a college player received praise from coaches all over the nation.
“Football. Athleticism. Leadership. Charity work. His faith. You name it. I’ve never seen anybody who had all that in one package,” said former Georgia head football coach and Athletic Director Vince Dooley.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, whose team ended the Gators’ 22-game winning streak and their reign as national champions during the 2009 Southeastern Conference championship game, said following the contest that he used Tebow’s character as an example of how he wanted his players to conduct themselves.
Raised in a family with missionaries as parents, Tebow has followed in their footsteps. He frequently participates in overseas missions to countries such as the Philippines, Thailand and Croatia. He speaks to and prays with prison inmates and has visited orphanages and leper colonies and volunteers at hospitals.
The presenter, Dr. Dennis, is a former vice president of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and superintendent of Denver Public Schools. She was the first woman to serve as a chef de mission for the USOC in the 1988 South Korean Summer Olympics. As an educator, Dr. Dennis was an active advocate of gender equity in athletics and monitored the U.S. District Court order to desegregate Denver Public Schools.
The Jackie Robinson Humanitarian Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated a concern for mankind. The winner should exhibit the qualities of dedication, grace under pressure, personal sacrifice, compassion, hope, and dignity that characterize the promotion of human welfare and social reform.
Jack Roosevelt Robinson broke the baseball color barrier by displaying his skills while at the same time subjugating his pride, to prove an awareness of our failings as well as his abilities. Had he lacked the discipline, not to mention the dedication, America and sport would be spiritually and athletically poorer.