A knee-jerk reaction to 'Tebowing'

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) prays in

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) prays in the end zone before the start of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears. (Dec. 11, 2011) (Credit: AP)

Ellis Henican

Newsday columnist Ellis Henican Ellis Henican

Henican is a columnist for Newsday. He also is a

bio | email

Of all the boneheaded stunts teenagers are capable of, why crack down on "Tebowing"?

If you don't know the term, you should by now. From Facebook and YouTube to random campuses across America, young people are striking the same prayerful one-knee pose that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has made famous on the football field. Pictures of the insta-trend are popping up everywhere, picking up where the planking craze left off.

Last week, about 40 students "Tebowed" in the hallway at Riverhead High. Principal David Wicks' swift response? One-day suspension for two of them.

The principal said he wasn't being anti-religion -- or even being anti-latest-goofy-trend. The between-classes Tebowing, he contended, was a serious breach of building safety. The offending students knelt down in the hallway in between periods and made it impossible to pass, he said. "If you have 40 kids kneeling down in the middle of a hallway, and God forbid a fire alarm goes off, they could potentially stop someone from getting to safety."

And why did a simple admonition not suffice? "Hey, kids! Get up from here! People want to pass!" Shouldn't the principal count himself lucky if unauthorized kneeling is Riverhead High's most urgent safety concern?

Compared to gang fighting, crack smoking, rifle toting, drunken driving and the other real-life threats on some campuses today -- even compared to bad cafeteria food! -- this burst of youthful exuberance is mighty small potatoes. It doesn't even run afoul of Supreme Court decisions on the First Amendment, which forbids COMPULSORY prayer in public school. Clearly, this wasn't that.

Avoiding these suspensions would have saved the principal -- and Superintendent Nancy Carney -- a whole lot of ridicule from parents, bloggers and TV talking heads. It might even have taught the students' classmates a valuable lesson on setting priorities.

 

TRENDING NEXT

TRUMPING: Inviting everyone to a party no one wants to attend.

MITTING: Unshakably holding a firm position -- until you don't anymore.

PERRYING: Believing you're alive when you're really dead

NEWTING: Taking large fees from powerful interests to influence policy in Washington. Not to be confused with lobbying, which is totally and completely different.

BARACKING: Thinking "no matter how low my polls go, I can still clobber these guys."


ASKED AND UNANSWERED: Wasn't that brilliantly sneaky, the way Breast Cancer Help Inc. hid GPS devices on its clothing-donation bins, helping to nab that alleged bin thief? . . . Seven and counting? Is that how many months in a row LI's lost jobs compared to the same month last year? . . . Flushed from Maspeth to make room for a new Kosciuszko Bridge, should bathroom-stall maker Karp Associates get an extra-sweet property-tax break for moving to Spagnoli Road in Melville? Neighboring companies paying the full rate -- how do they feel about that?

 

LONG ISLANDER OF THE WEEK: JASON TRAWICK

Local boy makes Britney? Of course he does. That's the thing about people from Long Island. They pop up everywhere! All of Hollywood was atwitter at week's end over the news -- delivered via Twitter, of course -- that pop star Britney Spears just got engaged. But it isn't just any California lover boy who won Brit's Bayou heart. It's William Morris Endeavor agent Jason Trawick who, despite his solid L.A.cred, grew up in Holbrook. Who played hockey at Sachem North High. Whose folks live in Setauket. Just another far-flung Long Islander popping up in the news.


Email ellis@henican.com
Follow on Twitter @henican