As Tim Tebow Prepares for New York Jets Training Camp, Cortland Prepares for Tebowmania

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What exactly is the so-called “Tebowmania?”

It’s all the hoopla surrounding Tim Tebow, the popular NFL player and aspiring quarterback who is entering his first season with the New York Jets here in 2012.

While it’s far too early to know exactly how Tim Tebow’s presence will affect the 2012 season for the Jets, his popularity is pretty evident and hard to ignore.

Whether you care for him as a player, as a person, or as a cultural icon is irrelevant. It’s impossible to deny that he’s got a lot of eyeballs on him, and he’s going to draw a lot of attention no matter where he is.

Be it Denver, Colorado; East Rutherford, New Jersey; or Cortland, New York; Tim Tebow is going to have his people watching his every move, whether he or anybody else likes it or not.

When the Jets made the Tebow trade, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I understand that he’s an athletic, high-character player who can definitely help a team on the football field if he’s utilized correctly.

But unless you’ve been living under a rock, the young man has quite a following, and that comes with a lot of fanatics on both sides of the coin. Tebow-lovers, Tebow-haters, and fans of various demographics.

This is a guy who had over 200 media members at his introductory press conference following his trade to the Jets. A man who sells out football stadiums for offseason church sermons as a religious icon.

As Tebow and the Jets prepare for their getaway to Cortland for training camp this month, the city of Cortland is preparing for Tebowmania.

“A couple months ago, I got a call from a church group, then another,” said Jim Dempsey of the Cortland County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “I thought it was interesting, not groups we normally get calls from.”

The Jets’ presence in the small town in central New York is one of the biggest annual tourism events in Cortland each summer. But with the attention that follows Tebow, the fanfare may go to even greater lengths this year.

“Right now, we have no way of knowing how many more groups will come because of Tim Tebow,” Dempsey said. “But we expect a lot.”

Tebow-related memorabilia is reportedly already flying off the shelves in the small college town, and the 24-year-old Tebow has not even arrived in town yet.

It’s safe to say that, no matter what happens with Tebow on the field this season, Tebowmania isn’t going away anytime soon. Whether anyone likes it or not, it’s something that we’ll all have to deal with.

“We really don’t know what to expect,” said George Seibel, the owner of the Dark Horse Tavern on Main Street. “But we are preparing for it to be big.”


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