Dawkins says Tebow “laid hands” on injured neck
“In our Bible study sessions when my neck was pretty bad and I’m hurting, [Tebow] along with our chaplain and [Broncos director of player development] Jerry Butler laid hands and prayed on me pretty good,” Dawkins said. “They brought snot and tears to my eyes and all that type of good stuff with prayer.”
It shouldn't come as a surprise that athletes will go to any extreme to try and influence the outcome of their performance, and that this behavior would extend to injuries. In fact, the less control an athlete feels he has over an outcome, the more superstitious his behavior becomes. Taylor Clark, author of the fascinating book Nerve Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool, devotes almost an entire chapter of the book to this very topic. According to Clark, athletes are less likely to employ superstition in situations in which outcomes are easily controlled, like fielding a groundball. That's because fielding percentages of major leaguers are well over 95%. In short, these players feel like they are in complete control over fielding.
Other outcomes are different, however. As Clark notes, the reason you see so much ritual and superstition around outcomes like the hitting of a baseball, for instance, is because it's damn difficult (outside of the steroids era, and even then no one has been able to touch Ted Williams' .406 batting record). In short, players feel like they have less control over the outcome. And they're right. When going 3 out of 10 is considered elite, it certainly speaks to the difficulty of the job. That's how you end up with someone like Wade Boggs, who was obsessive compulsive in his superstitious approach to hitting a baseball. Not only was he known as the "Chicken Man" for eating poultry as a pre-game meal, before each at-bat, he would write the word "Chai"--the Hebrew word for life--into the batter's box. Here's another example from the movie Major League (hey, bartender, Jobu needs a refill).
Dawkins and Tebow are no different in the case of Dawkins's neck injury. Laying of the hands beats--at least in their minds--sitting around and hoping the neck injury gets better. This is especially true given their religious convictions, which--how should we put it?--are more passionate than your average bear.
So the behavior shouldn't surprise anyone. In fact, there is interesting scientific data on faith healing, whether you believe in placebos or not. The surprise will come if Dawkins returns to the Broncos for another season given the extent of his neck injury.