Magazine article The Human Life Review

A Coach Steps over the Line

Magazine article The Human Life Review

A Coach Steps over the Line

Article excerpt

"But as you are just, you govern all things justly . . .

For you show your might when the perfection of your power is

disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity."

- Wisdom 12: 15, 17

It all started with a seemingly innocuous newscast on KMOV-TV in St. Louis on the evening of Jan. 19, 2008, when the CBS outlet aired an interview with a supporter of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton at a local campaign rally. As a result of that interview, yet another high-profile Catholic soon found himself bumping heads over abortion, both with his church and with his archbishop.

Once newscaster Mike O'Connell's brief conversation with coach Rick Majerus of the St. Louis University basketball team appeared on KMOV, it not only lit a minor brushfire of interest on the SLU campus; it ignited a firestorm of local- and national-media news coverage. The issue riveted the attention of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and later earned a World Over news spot on the national Catholic television network, EWTN.

Why all the furor?

Majerus apparently thought it was no big deal for him to endorse his favored candidate for the White House when he agreed to the interview. But once he linked his support for Hillary Clinton's candidacy to her ardent support for a woman's "right to choose," it caught the interest of St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke. For the archbishop, when a nationally prominent Catholic coach publicly supports the planned deaths of well over a million unborn children annually, it's more than just a harmless expression of one man's opinion. This was indeed a very big deal.

Initially, the Post-Dispatch offered a basic factual review of the KMOV newscast. But the opinionations of Post staffers that soon erupted fell far short of analyzing the full truth about what was really at stake here. Abortion was drawn back into the eye of an ideological storm.

No fewer than four one-sided commentaries spilled onto the Post's pages within a three-day period from three columnists - sports gurus Bernie Miklasz and Bryan Burwell, and news commentator Bill McClellan. They mounted a full-court press in an effort to sideline the archbishop from intruding into what they regarded as solely a campus affair. All three came across sounding a lot like unpaid RR. men for Coach Majerus.

But business as usual on the SLU campus these days has left few people convinced it still embraces the same Jesuit Catholic mission that launched the campus nearly two centuries ago. There's good reason, in fact, to doubt whether it bears the same clear Catholic identity that it wore proudly when I graduated a half-century ago.

Maybe it all hinges on your definition of academic freedom. SLU, after all, must be allowed to operate completely independent of the archdiocese, should it not? And the archbishop should have kept his nose out of its affairs, since he had no real authority over the campus or over its basketball coach voicing his political opinions at a public rally. Or so the three columnists tried feverishly to convince their readers - at great length.

McClellan did his best to mock the archbishop in a particularly cutesy and sophomoric column. Miklasz defended Majerus in this tiff as being "defiant - with respect," as the headline over his front-page commentary proclaimed. Burwell, meanwhile, got so exercised about Burke's alleged intrusion into the coach's business that he vented his wrath on the archbishop in two consecutive columns.

Was the Burke-Majerus spat merely a "manufactured controversy," as Burwell's first column phrased it? Not quite.

Let's get clinical for a moment. As a kind of second-tier member of the nation's media elite, the Post-Dispatch has reached an advanced stage of institutional addiction to "abortion rights" - arguably the biggest and most left-leaning drug of choice the Post has welcomed into the realm of political ideas. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.