Sister Jean is Great, But Isn't This All Kind of Embarrassing?

Kyle Koster

OK, folks, we get it. Sister Jean, the 98-year-old nun and Loyola superfan, is a good story. She’s been a good story for close to three weeks now. And in the interest of saying something nice, I’ll admit that even I, a jaded and cynical Scrooge, have not tired of her despite the around-the-clock, breathless coverage.

At the same time, it’s hard to look at what happened this morning in San Antonio without pausing to wonder if perhaps the Sister Jean story is more about the media than her. She and Ramblers guard Marques Townes had availability at the same time.

Guess where almost everyone showed up?

I can tell you what Sister Jean said and how likable she was saying it because my timeline was flooded with her quotes and color in real time. I can’t tell you if Townes said anything interesting about the upcoming game against Michigan because, well, who would alert me to that fact?

Since the very beginning of the Jean phenomenon, part of me has been waiting for the other shoe to drop as part of recent history’s most painful Milkshake Duck. Thankfully, we’ve made it through 14 of her 15 minutes without that happening. Even this comment today only flirts with the most liberal interpretation of problematic.

Yes, The Big Lead covered Sister Jean, and has been covering her throughout the tournament. I’ll include our site under the umbrella of media critique. She’s become the biggest star of the tournament but only because of the media chose to make her the focal point.

It’s fair to point out that she’s taken away from some from the actual Loyola players who are more responsible for their Final Four appearance than a 98-year-old sitting on the sidelines. They, of course, all seem fine with it because who would have a negative word to say about dear Jean?

Full disclosure? If I were credentialed this weekend, I may have picked the Sister Jean show as well. It’s more fun, there’s more energy, and the resulting content would be more clickable than Townes breaking down Michigan’s tenacious defense.

But isn’t it just a bit embarrassing that virtually everyone made this choice? Isn’t there a reporter’s reflex that kicks in and tell them they can get more access and glean more pertinent information from an actual player with no one else in the room?

Again, I’m not exactly casting dispersion here, but even a lowly blogger like myself looks at this picture and wonders if this feel-good story has a slightly sadder side. Call me the pot calling the kettle black, but this feels like evidence that most media outlets right now are indistinguishable from each other: chasing the same traffic with the same content with a few original pieces sprinkled in.

The uniformity may already be at a point where the consumers can’t tell the outlet without a press pass. Or perhaps I’m overreacting, spun out of control by Sister Jean, done in by a story so saccharine it broke my brain.