During a holy time in which Christians observe Jesus Christ rising from the grave and atoning for our sins, some of those same Christians, sadly, spent their time relentlessly mocking a nun.
Yes, as deplorable as it sounds, that happened over the holy weekend.
Jean Dolores Schmidt, dubbed Sister Jean throughout the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, quickly became an overnight sensation in the sports world. The 98-year-old Loyola Chicago team chaplain attended every game of the 11th seed’s Cinderella run. If you’re not familiar with college basketball odds, let’s put it simply: Loyola-Chicago is just the fourth No. 11 seed to advance into the Final Four in the history of the tournament.
Sitting on the sideline, draped in a maroon and gold scarf and grinning from ear to ear, Sister Jean turned into a symbolic good-luck charm as the school kept advancing. This wasn’t some Hollywood celebrity laced with scandals or a famous professional athlete betting the line. It was Sister Jean, who seemingly delivered a much-needed divine touch to her team and our hearts.
Her popularity grew so much she became the best-selling bobblehead of all time—really. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum sold over 13,000 Sister Jean bobbleheads in one week. Devout Christian or not, sports fans rallied together behind a good team and an even better woman.
Then, as par for the course, those same fans turned on her. With about 2 minutes left in the semi-final game against Michigan on Saturday, Sister Jean left early and the Internet’s ire erupted. Memes of Sister Jean with a superimposed Michael Jordan crying face (a popular custom sports fans employ when any athlete or team loses) proliferated on social media.
@b1ackschefter “Sister Jean holding that ‘L’
@abdulamemon “Confirmed: Sister Jean is a fair weather fan.”
@mrazCBS Sister Jean is a bigger fraud than Marlins Man and that is saying something.
That’s just a handful of the tweets that went viral, begging the question…what is wrong our culture?
First, let’s get the facts straight. Sister Jean departed early to make her way to the tunnel so she could greet players leaving the court. According to Loyola-Chicago’s assistant athletic director for communications Bill Behrns, that’s her routine.
“I cannot believe anyone would insinuate she gave up on these kids,” Behrns said in an email to USA Today. “How utterly disgusting.”
Say it louder for the people in the back, Behrns. He’s absolutely right.
Look, social media exists at its finest when people can enjoy jokes and share in the same love of a sport, rather than dissecting one another in political partisanship. While, undoubtedly, many accounts meant their Sister Jean one-liners in jest, perhaps we should take a moment to realize the cruelty in that behavior. Would any of these accounts say those offensive remarks to Sister Jean’s face? Not a chance. So, perhaps consider how appropriate your behavior online is as well.
Furthermore since the game concluded late Saturday evening, many of these amateur comedians likely attended church the following morning—a bit hypocritical to criticize a woman of God less than 24 hours before extolling Matthew 28:6 on Easter.
You deserve better, Sister Jean, and although Loyola-Chicago lost, we all won because basketball, despite its rowdy and at-times tactless fans, introduced us to you.
Please forgive us for our sins.