There’s no way around it — the St. Louis Cardinals are a cowardly organization.
The Cardinals refused to credential a writer from OutSports.com The writer, Erik Hall, was there to cover the Cardinals’ “Christian Day” but was refused. The team’s PR director offered a lame explanation that blogs don’t get credentials (even though they do, including OutSports in the past), so Hall had to buy a ticket to the game. He was not able to interview players or coaches after the game. The Cardinals are in the news over this because they invited former star Lance Berkman to speak — Berkman is a Christian and an outspoken opponent of LGBT rights, so it makes sense that OutSports wanted to cover it.
Did Hall and OutSports come with an agenda? Of course they did. The site focuses on LGBT issues and personalities in sports. Of course it was bringing an agenda. It should. That’s its role in the sports media landscape.
The Cardinals should have given Hall a credential. They should have given Hall the same access any reporter would have received.
For one, there’s the unavoidable fact that, as Christians, we are called to be an inclusive people and welcome all at the table.
From a PR standpoint, it’s a no-brainer. If Hall had been credentialed, he would have written a very interesting story that we would have read and then moved on from. By denying him, the Cardinals have made it a story for at least a day or two. They’ve earned the well-deserved wrath of anyone who cares about access in journalism.
But more important, it’s the right thing to do.
Nobody ever died from being asked a question. Conversation, give-and-take, asking a question and giving an honest answer — that’s the role we play as journalists. Our job is to ask questions, look for answers, start conversations. At a time when the struggle for LGBT rights is very much in the news, when the president of the United States is on Twitter calling transgender people “a burden,” questions, answers and conversations are what’s needed. If the Cardinals’ players and coaches are going to be very public about their faith, and if the Cardinals organization is going to openly have a Christian Day (not a Faith Day, you notice), then the right thing to do is allow questions and conversations from members of a community that feels persecuted by the group being celebrated.
Yes, the Cardinals have a right to credential whomever they wish.
But they also have an obligation to do the right thing. They had a chance. They failed.
They acted like cowards.