Pro-Life College Football Coach Makes Bold Promise to Players to Back Up His Beliefs
College football season is a month from kickoff, but Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh has been making plenty of headlines.
The outspoken coach drew offseason attention last week when he delivered a speech at a pro-life event where he said, “I believe in having the courage to let the unborn be born.”
And in an interview with CNN on Saturday, he went a step further, making a very personal pledge.
Asked by CNN’s Gene Wojciechowski how he would handle it if any staff members came to him to say they disagreed with his pro-life stance and wanted to discuss it.
Harbaugh said he would be more than willing to talk about it it. Then he made a statement that’s drawing new attention.
Check out the video here:
“Let’s discuss it,” Harbaugh responded. “I’ve told them that. And it goes even further.
“I’ve told … the same thing I tell my kids, boys, the girls, same thing I tell our players, our staff members. I encourage them if they have a pregnancy that wasn’t planned, ‘Go through with it, go through with it. Let that unborn child be born, and if at that time, you don’t feel like you can care for it, you don’t have the means or the wherewithal, then Sarah and I will take that baby.’”
The whole issue of abortion has taken on a new urgency since the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs decision in June that overturned the legal travesty of 1973’s Roe v. Wade, but Harbaugh was speaking on the issue long before that. In an April 2020 interview, he said the then-raging COVID-19 pandemic should foster a new respect for the “sanctity of life” and called abortion “horrendous.”
Now, Harbaugh is obviously in a position most Americans would envy. With a base salary of about $4 million, plus incentives for the Wolverines’ performance, he’s not hurting for money.
A twice-married man who’s fathered seven children, the most recent born in 2017, he’s clearly got some experience in raising a family.
And he’s willing to make a pledge on a national television network to step in to take over the responsibility of rearing a child born to anyone in his family, extended family or professional family.
That shouldn’t be necessary, of course. But to any normal person, it’s laudable. When a man as prominent as a former NFL coach and big name in college athletics like Harbaugh makes a statement like that in public, he’s got to back it up. And Harbaugh has to know that.
Naturally, social media being what it is, and 21st century America being what it is, Twitter responses to Harbaugh’s words included way too many that were negative, with comments ranging from clearly liberal users and their predictable challenges to Harbaugh to start adopting children in foster care to snide implications that he was volunteering his wife for a job she doesn’t want.
At the other end of the political spectrum, at the conservative website TheBlaze, sports columnist Jason Whitlock even derided Harbaugh’s statement as a “recruitment tool.”
Harbaugh’s public positions on controversial topics, Whitlock wrote, are opportunistic, such as Harbaugh’s support for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick (whom Harbaugh coached with the San Francisco 49ers before Kaepernick’s anthem demonstrations started) or marching against police brutality after the death of George Floyd.
“I’m glad he took the stance. I just don’t think he demonstrated any real courage in taking it,” Whitlock wrote.
“Every position Harbaugh takes is filtered through the lens of football, not Catholicism. He’s pro-Kaepernick because that’s a message that works with recruits,” Whitlock wrote. “He’s pro-George Floyd because that’s a message that works with recruits. He’s pro-life because that’s a message that works with the mothers of recruits.
“His way of being pro-life also comforts potential recruits. He’s telling his players that if they knock up a coed, Harbaugh and his wife will raise the baby. He’s not telling his players to avoid irresponsible sex, to find a woman worthy of marriage and procreate with her. He’s providing his players a safety net for irresponsible behavior.
And then there was this particularly cheap shot that sounds like it could have come from right out of the writing room of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”:
“If being pro-life would jeopardize a five-star recruit for Michigan, I suspect Harbaugh would convert his locker room into a Planned Parenthood facility.”
None of these points detract from Harbaugh’s message.
About foster care: Of course, it’s regrettable that there are so many children already in the foster care system, but only a madman would ask one individual to take responsibility for them simply because he has pro-life beliefs. Harbaugh acknowledged his responsibility to his own family, then to his extended family, then to his professional family.
If all Americans did that in their own lives — took responsibility first and foremost for themselves, then for their families, then for their communities — the country would be better off. (Don’t expect to see Democrats advocating that. It would get in the way of the government being in control.)
About Harbaugh’s wife: It’s worth pointing out that Sarah Harbaugh also spoke at last week’s Plymouth, Michigan, Right to Life event where Jim appeared, according to MLive. It appears to be a family conviction.
And about the normally sensible Whitlock calling it a “recruitment tool”: If critics are going to disparage a man’s stance simply because he’s not making himself a martyr by taking it, they’re going to miss out on a lot of good men.
If conservatives are going to dismiss conservative statements simply because they’re not made exactly how the listener thinks they should be, if such statements are going to be degraded because they don’t include every possible contingency the hearer deems appropriate, then conservatives will become dormant as a political force in a country that at the bottom remains — despite the Democrat Party’s unflagging efforts — a democratic republic governed by its voters.
If conservatives want to put a purity test on every potential ally, and publicly attack any that doesn’t pass it, 270 Electoral College votes are going to get further and further away.
(Using jabs that sound more like juvenile, late-night snark doesn’t help.)
Harbaugh doesn’t have to be perfect (the fact that he’s a divorced, remarried Catholic is evidence that perfection is problematic in this case). But no human is. And in this case, he has to be applauded.
The bottom line is that he’s taken a position a college football coach doesn’t have to, and it’s a position that runs against the overwhelming current of legacy media, Hollywood and a culture that’s still dominated by liberals.
When he was questioned on it, he doubled down, with a strong individual promise that the whole country has now heard him make.
Those are the kind of headlines to be proud of.
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