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Sports writers: a parallel magisterium?

January 28, 2008

For many like me, the term “sports writer” conjures up the image of a high school athletics star who, after playing so-so in college and never making it to the pros, parleyed a certain facility with words into getting paid to watch other people (most of whom would never make it to the pros either) play games. What we never realized, it seems, was just how many sports writers apparently spend all their free time studying moral theology, canon law, and the history of religion in public life. Yet, just look at how many sports writers feel qualified to publish opinions applauding the abortionism that St. Louis University basketball Coach Rick Majerus is publicly and defiantly maintaining against his Archbishop Raymond Burke.

But folks, after reading a raft of pep rallies published for Coach Majerus over the weekend, I’ve reached a conclusion: if sports writers are really qualified to parse Catholic moral theology and ecclesiastical discipline against a world class theologian and canonist like Abp. Burke, then I’m more than qualified to coach college ball. Hey, I’ve watched some NBA All-Star videos, I saw “Hoosiers” (which, okay, wasn’t about college basketball, but so what?),and people still talk about that right hand hook shot I made in the eighth grade basketball camp.

Laugh if you want, but that’s about the level of ecclesiastical sophistication that sports writers are bringing to bear against Abp. Burke for his reaction to Majerus’ support for abortion and experimentation on embryonic human beings. But let’s be very clear about something here: Coach Majerus, not Abp. Burke, violated the wall of separation between Church and Sport, and now it’s up to Majerus to repair the damage he did. In the meantime, the more his allies in the sports media try to defend the coach’s blunder, the more they show themselves to be way, way out of their league.

One pernicious line being pushed by the sports media machine runs thus: It’s unfair to rag on poor Majerus cuz, after all, he’s just a hoops coach who was caught off guard with a trick question by the media. That’s total baloney. Rick Majerus touts his Catholic education whenever it suits him, and he has dealt with, and even worked for, the media for many years. Though “just a coach”, Majerus is probably the highest paid official at St. Louis University (good grief!), and he soon will be, if he is not already, the most nationally recognized name the university has.

If, therefore, anyone at a Jesuit educational institution needs to be called for reiterating public dissent from Church moral teaching, for supporting the canonically criminal acts of abortion and experimentation on embryonic humans, and for stiff-arming an archbishop who has called for a retraction, it’s SLU basketball coach Rick Majerus.

Unless, that is, you also think that Abp. Burke is qualified to coach NCAA Men’s Division I basketball. You know, just like I am.

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Some good sense from CWR’s George Neumayr.

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