Sunday, September 18, 2011

Got Jesus?

Earlier this week, a high school football game garnered wide media attention simply for the cheers offered by the student body. Cincinnati's Saint Xavier, a football powerhouse, went head-to-head with a major rival, Cincinnati Colerain. The then-No. 26 Saint Xavier narrowly triumphed over then-No. 8 Colerain with a score of 17-14.

Apparently, moments after the victory, the Student Section at Saint Xavier began to chant "We've Got Jesus." Upon hearing this cheer, Colerain's coach Tom Bolden apparently went ballistic and he began shouting at the students. Asked after the game, a simmering Bolden is quoted, "They ought to be embarrassed."

In response, one of the Saint Xavier students had this to say:
"The sad reality of this situation is that our entire faculty has absolutely handcuffed us in terms of what we are and aren't allowed to chant because they are so worried about our public relations, and the chants that our student section chant are nothing compared to what the teams we play are able to stay us. How about you report on the constant anti-gay chants we have to deal with week in and week out?" 
You can read for yourself accounts of the story here, here, and here

As the moderator of U of D Jesuit's Student Senate, it's one of my jobs to be in the rotation to moderate our student body's cheering section. It is absolutely true that co-ed schools will chant "We've Got Girls" and "You are Gay." Heck, I've heard other local (purportedly) Catholic schools chant "You are Gay" at sporting events. Now while I have no trouble coming up with eviscerating comeback cheers in response, I am not allowed to give them to the students. Alas.

I am, consequently, sympathetic to the views expressed by the Saint X student. We do expect a degree of cleverness and decorum from our students and we are concerned with the way they present themselves to the wider public. I have, on numerous occasions, quashed cheers that they students think are "awesome" because they were unclever or offensive. Thus, I totally get the kids' frustration at feeling as though their hands are tied when it comes to cheering.

Now, on a theological level, the cheer is absolute balderdash if we believe in Jesus (He came so that all, or in the forthcoming translation of the Mass, so that many) might be saved. I tend to err on the side of God's graciousness, so I'm pretty comfortable with saying that Jesus is no one's possession. Then again, it's a Catholic school playing against a public school. On a certain level, Saint X does have Jesus: they can post a picture of the Sacred Heart and not be fired for it, whereas to do that in a public school might well lead to a suspension if not a firing!

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