Baylor and Oral Roberts: The outliers in cancel culture

Kelsey O’Loughlin, Senior Writer

The Baylor Bears men’s basketball team won their first national title since 1948. The 73-year drought came to end in the most difficult and strenuous years for all teams across the country. Before the 2019-2020 season, the last time Baylor was a powerhouse in basketball was the 1940s with coach Bill Henderson. The program itself had ‘gone through the mill’ in the worst circumstances imaginable; in 2003, a player murdered his teammate and the coach attempted to tamper with evidence and frame the scandal in favor of the killer. It took seven years before Baylor had its first 20-win season. The 2020 season was a huge question mark for the men of Baylor and the most powerful thought of “what if?” Those talented underclassmen – who could have declared – stayed, and the juniors and seniors decided to stay because of the untapped potential possessed by this special group. The Bears had one lapse, falling to Oklahoma State in the Big XII tournament. After that loss, they reset and efficiently handled every opponent they faced in the NCAA tournament.

This victory was a long time coming for head coach Scott Drew. Through the early years of his tenure, which he called the “lean years,” Drew went through a number of different periods to get to this point. Like all successful and great teams, those teammates went through the grunt work and built the foundation for the 2021 squad. This team was mostly freshmen and sophomores, one fifth-year and one grad transfer. Mark Vital is a fifth-year student from Lake Charles, La. Vital was named a Big XII honoree twice and a team captain. Mark Paterson is a grad transfer from Dallas, Texas. He did not see a lot of court time but provided veteran leadership for the Bears.

Oral Roberts University’s team, however, was the true Cinderella story of this year’s tournament. The Golden Eagles play in the Summit League and won this year’s conference tournament with a 75-72 win over South Dakota. The squad made a historical run in the tournament, defeating no. 7 Ohio State in the first round, then Florida, and unfortunately losing to Arkansas in the field of 16 by two. The last time ORU competed in the NCAA tournament was in 2006. They faced off against Memphis and did not make it past the first round. Max Abmas was one of the shining stars for this year’s squad. The Rockwall, Texas native was named the Lou Henson National Player of the Year as the best mid-major college player in the country. He earned AP All American honorable mention recognition, led the NCAA in scoring with 24.5 points per game and is only a sophomore.

Baylor and Oral Roberts are two very different institutions. One is a power five while the other is a mid-major, one recruits McDonald’s All-Americans while the other gets men who are not ranked recruits, and one won the national title and the other made the tournament for the first time in 15 years. The common denominator between both of these schools is that they are both private, Christian schools. The core values of both schools are very similar in that they both promote using their spirit and faith-guided visions to reach for intellectual excellence through leadership. Those from USA Today and others wrote about how the Cinderella story should not be applied to Oral Roberts because of its traditional views rooted in Christianity and its policies that go against the NCAA’s values of equality and inclusion, specifically regarding the LGBTQ+ community. Some believe that they should not have been allowed to compete, and that the university’s guidelines contravene the equality rules from the NCAA.

Both teams pray after every game, either with themselves or with their opponents. Both pray before their game as well, although unseen by the general public. Both abide by the same beliefs, which do not fall in line with today’s social climate. There has never been a time in history in which people have been so unforgiving and sensitive towards each other. One wrong move, one wrong thing said or accidentally and unknowingly calling someone by the wrong pronoun can get you canceled for a long time. Both of these schools stay grounded in their founding beliefs as they do not conform to the toxic modernity of cancel culture. 

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