Column: Tebow or the fight might not be great, but so what?
The odds keep dropping on Conor McGregor, though it’s more because UFC fans love him than his actual chances of winning a boxing match against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
No, oddsmakers don’t think McGregor has any chance. But his fans keep lining up at the betting window with $20 bills to back their belief that someone who has never boxed before can beat the greatest defensive boxer of his time.
It’s nonsense, of course, but that doesn’t deter McGregor’s fans. There’s also a good chance they’ll be spending another $100 or so to watch the fight on TV, which, of course, is why the fight was made in the first place.
There will be big crowds in Florida this summer, too, though not to watch anyone fight. The St. Lucie Mets have a new outfielder who has more than a bit of name recognition in the state.
Like McGregor, Tim Tebow has no real chance. Not after hitting .220 in low-A ball, and not in a sport new to him at the relatively advanced age of 29.
Tebow is not going to be a major leaguer, no matter what those flocking to the minor league ballpark believe. He may not even believe it himself after hitting three home runs while striking out 69 times with the Columbia Fireflies.
That got Tebow a promotion in the Mets organization that even team officials found difficult to explain. That it’s in a state where he won the Heisman Trophy as the quarterback for the University of Florida not so many years ago seems to be a little more than a coincidence.
But, really, what is the harm? Tebow will put more fans in seats, and they will be happy fans because they will get a chance to be close to someone they idolize.
The same goes for McGregor fighting Mayweather. The fight may be a mismatch, but no one is forcing anyone to pay to watch it. If McGregor’s fans want to blow their summer vacation money on him, well, that’s their choice.
I mean, the Cleveland Browns aren’t really competitive either, but that doesn’t stop thousands of fans from putting down money every year for season tickets to watch their team.
That sports are really just entertainment with a score attached shouldn’t come as much surprise to anyone at the ballpark. Batters have their own walk-up music, mascots roam the stands, and every football game offers some kind of halftime attraction to keep ticket buyers interested.
The best thing happening in Atlanta right now isn’t the Braves playing in a spanking new stadium. It’s The Freeze, a costumed superhero who outruns a hapless fan between innings and has become so popular that he’s knocked the sausage race out of the nightly ESPN highlights.
Want some dancing to go with your baseball? Check out the groundskeepers for the Yankees breaking out to ”Y.M.C.A” between innings.
Again, nothing new. Bill Veeck was the owner of the St. Louis Browns in 1951 when he had the idea to put in Eddie Gaedel to pinch hit in a game. Gaedel, who stood all of 3-foot-7 and had the uniform number 1/8, drew a walk in his only plate appearance.
”For a minute, I felt like Babe Ruth,” Gaedel said.
It’s all entertainment. Some good, some bad, and some that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
McGregor and Mayweather are merely entertainers themselves. They’ll sell their fight with trash talk and stunts that will be far more fun than the bout itself and no one will be able to say they weren’t forewarned about what was going to happen.
Tebow, meanwhile, is a one-man franchise. He sells jerseys from two sports and stirs a passion in his fans that can’t – and shouldn’t – be ignored. Parents bring the kids to see him, and when they do, the talk is about Tebow as a football player and a devout Christian, not about his prospects of making it to the major leagues.
No, it’s not sport at the highest level. Far from it, on the field or in the ring.
Remember, though, nobody is forcing you to buy a ticket.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg