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Sports Authority

Mazurek: Chill it with Sister Jean

| Monday, March 26, 2018

My email address is mmazurek@nd.edu

It’s listed at the bottom of this story, but I figured I’d put it at the beginning of the article to make it easier for you should you want to send me hate mail.


Because I’m about to say something bad about Sister Jean.

Well, not Sister Jean herself exactly. I don’t know her personally and hadn’t heard of her before this March, but she seems every bit the sweet, 98-year-old nun and chaplain to Loyola-Chicago’s men’s basketball team the media have made her out to be.

But that’s the problem. I feel like I know so much about Sister Jean, because I literally — yes, I’m using literally correctly — cannot avoid seeing a story about her.

Every sports writer and his or her brother who attended a Loyola-Chicago game in the past month has written at least three features about Sister Jean. Every run the Ramblers make is attributed to her; every last-second shot goes in because of her; every tweet from the game mentions her; and she gets a TV interview after every game.

And it’s understandable, to a certain extent. Sister Jean is certainly a great story. She’s 98 years old, she’s good at camera and has a good sense of humor. And on top of everything else, Loyola-Chicago’s run to the Final Four has been nothing short of amazing, given it’s a mid-major school and a No. 11 seed.

But can we please cool it with Sister Jean? Nothing, not even Trump, has monopolized my Twitter feed as much as that one woman. Do we really, truly need another 10-20 features rehashing the same storyline? She’s a fun nun who’s the chaplain of a great Cinderella team. We get it.

And I’m not the only one. A radio host in Tennessee tweeted “F— Sister Jean.” When interviewed, the man said he meant it as a joke but was tired of the attention Sister Jean was getting from the TV broadcasts.

I, of course, do not condone swearing at a man or woman of the cloth (save the profanity for the referees, I say), but if you were a fan of Miami, Tennessee, Nevada or Kansas State, I very much sympathize with how little time was devoted to your teams in comparison with Sister Jean.

And with the Ramblers making the Final Four, the media frenzy around Sister Jean will be bigger than ever, which is too bad.

Sister Jean is a great story, but nothing new has been added since that story was first told in the opening days of the tournament. It’s even gotten to the point where her newfound fame is diminishing the accomplishments of the team itself.

Sister Jean herself has said she doesn’t want that.

How about we, collectively as sportswriters, leave Sister Jean alone.

Instead, how about writing a story on senior guard Ben Richardson, who averages just seven points a game and hadn’t scored more than 10 points in a tournament game until the Elite Eight, where he went off for 23 on 6-of-7 shooting from 3-point range? If you want to make a story beyond the court, Richardson and junior guard Clayton Custer are both from Kansas and roommates. You could write a fine story about their journey at Loyola-Chicago and how beating Kansas State to reach the Final Four made them feel.

Or what about Porter Moser, the head coach who’s now 4-0 in his first ever NCAA tournament, with a team whose last appearance in the Big Dance was 1985?

Better yet, a feature comparing this upcoming Final Four matchup with the Wolverines to Loyola-Chicago’s last meeting with Michigan in the NCAA tournament — a Sweet 16 game in 1964 — could work quite nicely.

The point is that Sister Jean’s story has been beaten to death. Nothing new or interesting has or will be added. Let her watch the games in peace.

How about the writers covering the game give their readers a new angle on Loyola-Chicago?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Marek Mazurek

Marek is a senior history major and is a former resident of Carroll Hall. He has lived in Mishawaka or South Bend for all 21 years of his life and covers Notre Dame football and men's basketball. He has loads of hand-eye coordination but lacks the height to be any good. Marek is also a proud esports supporter.

Contact Marek