Chief’s kicker under fire for commencement speech

Written by: Jaylin Hardin | Sports Editor

Kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs football team, Harrison Butker, has recently come under fire for a commencement speech he gave May 11, 2024, at Benedictine College in Atchinson, Kansas. Benedictine is a Catholic college and Butker is of the Catholic faith. 

In his 20-minute address, Butker denounced abortion rights, Pride Month, COVID-19 lockdowns and “the tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion,” as well as criticized Catholic Priests with a Taylor Swift lyric. But, it was how he addressed the female graduates that has been condemned the most on social media.

“I want to speak directly to you briefly because I think it is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you. How many of you are sitting here now about to cross the stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career?” Butker asked. “Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world. But I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.”

Since then, Butker has faced backlash online from fans of the Chiefs and Taylor Swift alike, with a petition circulating around social media to remove him from the team. 

The nuns of Benedictine denounced Butker’s address in a statement posted to Facebook: “The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested.” Mount St. Scholastica was one of the founding churches of Benedictine College. 

Members of the Catholic Church have had mixed reactions to Butker’s commencement speech, with a majority praising him for his statement. 

“I was thinking about my dad, who was also here, and how he’s probably clapping and so happy to see what he would say is a real man (reflecting) family values, good religious upbringing and representation of Christ to people,” ValerieAnne Volpe, who graduated from Benedictine with an art degree, said to the Associated Press. “You can just hear that he loves his wife. You can hear that he loves his family.”

Other students told The Associated Press in interviews that they embrace the college’s emphasis on Catholic teaching and practice.

“It’s a renewal of some really, really good things that we might have lost,” one student said. On the other end, some Catholics have lamented their frustration with Butker’s statements. One graduate, Kassidy Neuner, told The Associated Press that the kicker should have made it clear that men can be homemakers, too.

On May 24, 2024, Butker spoke at the Regina Caeli Academy Courage Under Fire Gala in Nashville, Tennessee about the backlash he has received.

“It is now, over the past few days, my beliefs or what people think I believe have been the focus of countless discussions around the globe,” Butker said Friday. “At the outset, many people expressed a shocking level of hate. But as the days went on, even those who disagreed with my viewpoints shared their support for my freedom of religion. My hope is that tonight’s theme and our mission will embolden others, that many more will be unapologetic of their Catholic faith and never be afraid to speak out for truth, even when it goes against the loudest voices.”

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