The City of Columbia has denied Missouri Athletic Director Jim Sterk a permit to present his interpretation of the the Nativity, and the proposed star of the show says he wouldn’t have participated anyway.
Earlier this week, Sterk presented plans to perform a 24-hour version of the Nativity in front of Mizzou Arena with Michael Porter Jr. playing the role of the Christ child. Porter said Sterk did not consult him before applying for the permit.
“I’m a team player,” Porter said, “but I’m also a devout believer in Jesus Christ, and no matter how well-intentioned Mr. Sterk is, this is a time when we should be honoring our savior.”
“That’s what I thought I was doing,” Sterk said while on a break from building an 8-foot-long manger out of flowering dogwood branches and tiger fur.
The Porter family is built around its faith. Prior to becoming a high-demand assistant basketball coach worth a $1,125,000 three-year contract and double what Kim Anderson’s highest paid assistant coach earned, (“A bargain if you ask me,” Sterk said while on a break from knitting an 8-foot swaddling blanket), Michael Porter Sr. was a Christian hip hop artist who traveled the world spreading the gospel.
“Our family has a great deal to be thankful for this year, and we, including Michael, will lift our voices to God’s true son on this blessed holiday,” Porter Sr. said. “Mr. Sterk is a good man and has shown his appreciation in ways I can’t even contractually discuss, but I will not tolerate sacrilege.”
Told of Sterk’s plan, Coach Cuonzo Martin silently shook his head and refused to comment on the way to the locker room. Before entering, he stopped and said, “For the record, if it comes up, Michael will also not be participating in the Easter pageant at Devil’s Icebox Cave or any performance that could injure the palms of his hands.”
Martin muttered several expletives that sources said included the words “didn’t sign up for this.”
Sterk said he will abide by the city’s decision and the Porters’ wishes, but he’s still searching for a place to re-home the goats, sheep, and camels he purchased for the performance.
A spokesman for The Antlers said his organization would be happy to rescue the animals in advance of its 2018 initiation ceremony.
Mizzou plays Illinois Saturday night in St. Louis. Sterk said he “will be there if Michael is.”