Tim Tebow is America’s most popular athlete

Chris Chase

Who has a weird throwing motion, two fingers constantly pointed skyward and is the most popular athlete in America? Timothy Richard Tebow, that's who.

The Denver Broncos quarterback finished first in an ESPN Sports Poll asking Americans about their favorite active athlete. In the survey of 1,502 sports fans over the age of 12, Tebow finished ahead of Kobe Bryant, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The second-year veteran earned 3 percent of the vote, well ahead of Bryant's 2 percent.

ESPN has been conducting the poll every month for the last 18 years. Tebow is just the 11th athlete to top the list and only the sixth in the past five years.

Pro Football Talk makes light of the fact ESPN's poll findings are based on 47 people's like of Tebow (thanks to the small sample size and his scant percentage of the vote). It's a legitimate point, but one that totally ignores the science of data collecting. The overnight television ratings that PFT often touts are reportedly based on just 5,000 Nielsen families. Approval ratings for the president can come from 1,500 voters. And the primary polls that get so much attention on news networks in an election year? They have far fewer respondents than ESPN's athlete poll. Either all of these numbers are jokes or they're all decent, if flawed, representations of the general public.

Frankly, it's surprising Tebow only gets 3 percent of the vote. Everybody -- everybody -- is talking about him, in restaurants, bars, Jiffy Lube waiting rooms, doctor's offices and subway stations. I've overheard Tebow talk in all of these places in the last four days and not just from sports fans, but from folks who wouldn't know a first down from a field goal. The last time America was so captivated about an individual's athletic achievements was when Michael Phelps was winning eight golds at the Beijing Olympics.

That's an apt comparison, as they have a similar flair for the dramatics:

Tebow haters will scoff at the poll, agreeing that 47 people makes not a national trend. What about if Tebow topped a "most disliked athlete" poll? Judging by the anti-Tebow comments left on each of our posts about the Broncos QB, it wouldn't be a surprise if Tim won that one too.

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