Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The BYU/Utah Rivalry

I am a long time fan of BYU, and to a lesser degree, the University of Utah. (I know that's not supposed to be possible . . . yaddy, yaddy, yadda . . . My critics can believe what they want.) And, a few years ago, I had an experience that illustrates for me what is wrong with the BYU/Utah rivalry:

I was sitting in Rice-Eccles Stadium watching Urban Meyer, Alex Smith, Eric Weddle and Company take-on the Wyoming Cowboys. I was there to observe the Ute's outstanding execution and to cheer them on to victory. But, what struck me was how a certain group of vocal fans in front of me were there, apparently, for totally different reasons:

1) To hang out with their buddies.
2) Get drunk. (They smuggled in booze.)
3) Act rowdy. (They were throwing candy and peanuts at people below them in the stands.)
4) And, boo BYU -- who wasn’t even playing!

One of them wore a T-shirt depicting Calvin (from the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbs") urinating on the BYU logo. And, every few minutes they would stand up, toot a kazoo, and rattle off some cheer ending with the words: "BYU sucks!" In their minds, they probably liked to think of themselves as being "great Utah fans." But, the reality is that they were not even watching what was happening on the field. From what I witnessed, they could not have cared less about the University of Utah and the team that represents that fine school. Rather, what they were really all about was rebelling against the dominant Mormon culture, and using BYU as a surrogate for their expressions of bigotry.

That is what is so disgusting about the BYU/Utah rivalry -- the hatred, and the extreme incivility.

I wish that this was only a problem with a few "bad Utah fans." The truth is that there are thousands of BYU fans who behave in as equally reprehensible ways. For example, I was totally ashamed of the way some of them booed MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson when he presented the football team with its championship trophy last year. At least the small group of drunk Utah fans that I sat behind could blame alcohol for some of their boorish behavior. But, the sober BYU fans, who so poorly represented their school, can only blame their own lack of Christian ethics.

Apparently, too many of us are more concerned about watching satellite TV than we are with reading the scriptures. How embarrassing. May we all repent, regardless of the colors we wear.


At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 9:36:00 AM, Blogger Voice of Utah said...

I'm hoping that those were primarily younger fans. Not that it's an excuse, but maturity might eventually set in. Rivalries are more intense, though. A few years ago, a colleague and I put on BYU blue and went to a game at Arizona State. Unfortunately, the scalper lied (!) to us and, instead of putting us in the BYU section, plopped us right in the ASU student section. Although they were equally drunk and there was quite a lot of, um, banter, they were actually kind of fun. Nothing as crass as what you're describing. I still think it's a maturity thing, though. The rivalry is a source of great entertainment at my workplace, but it's all in fun.

At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 11:21:00 AM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear VoU,

The group I "experienced" was made up of about four middle-aged men. They were accompanied by about as many younger men, whom I guessed were their sons. But, it was actually the older men who were the obnoxious ones.

On a certain level, I know they were just having fun. I can live with that.

But, the problem is that they were doing so at the expense of everyone else around them. And, what they probably considered to be mere "entertainment" felt a little too much like hateful "persecution."

Given the historical reality of religious violence, I do not believe that is something we should encourage or accept in our community. I think we all need to speak out against such behavior, amongst our friends and within our families, regardless of who is being targeted -- Muslims, gays, ethnic minorities, whatever. It just seems unhealthy to me.

As always, I appreciate you stopping by, my friend.


At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 2:33:00 PM, Blogger The Senate Site said...

Go Huskies!

(I was born at BYU but studied at UW. And I'm not at all bitter about 1984.)


At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 2:37:00 PM, Blogger The Senate Site said...

Just re-read the other comments about age, rivalries and the historical persecution of minorities and realized I shoved the dialog into the shallow end of the pool. VofU and AW: please go back to the deep water. More truth to be discovered there.

Here's a quote by Tolstoy to help: ... just kidding. I don't have anything by Tolstoy memorized. Carry on.

At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 5:10:00 PM, Blogger Voice of Utah said...

Well, I think we all know which of Tolstoy's immortal quotes fits here: "Nietzsche was stupid and abnormal." (I'm assuming, of course, that one of the miscreants at the game was named Nietzsche.)

At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 5:42:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

Dear Ric,

First of all, I enjoy the shallow end of the pool, so there's no need for apologies. (The truth is, I actually appreciate you lightening the mood.)

Secondly, I also have done some studying at the University of Washington, myself. And, I was also a big fan of Don James, Warren Moon and Company back in the glory days. So, I can only second your "Go Huskies!"

The only thing that troubles me about your comments is picturing in my mind how you could possibly have been "born at BYU."

I can see it now, your mother was one of those legendary BYU coeds we've heard so much about -- nine months pregnant, stressed-out, in the middle of a mind bending final exam, suddenly little RC is born, she finishes the exam, gets an "A," cleans up the mess . . .

Wow! All I can say is that you must have some sturdy pioneer ancestry, my friend. Way to go!

Thanks for dropping by, bud.


At Wednesday, August 01, 2007 5:47:00 PM, Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...


You know, now that you mention it, the guy with the T-shirt kept saying "Thus saith Zarathustra: BYU sucks!"

I never put two and two together until you pointed it out. You, my friend, are a genius!


At Sunday, August 12, 2007 10:59:00 AM, Blogger Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

No kidding. I won't even go to BYU/UofU games at Rice Stadium anymore. My sister and I went one year, courtesy of Phil Nauahi. He got us tickets right smack dab in the middle of U of U fans. We were cheering our team on when we got pelted from some stuff up above. I turned around and found several drunk students getting ready to chuck a beer bottle at us. My sister yelled something about Mark Smith and what he was doing on the field and I glanced back to see what was going on. Just at that moment, Mark Smith's REALLY BIG BROTHER said, "you know Mark?" (We didn't know it was his brother sitting next to us.) We answered in the affirmative as he was our friend and neighbor. Smith's brother turned around to the drunks and gave them what for . . . that was the end of that little incident. But about 20 minutes later my sister and I decided to just leave the game. We had a long way to walk and weren't feeling too safe.

How insane is that?

Found you via a like interest in BYU Football.

At Wednesday, April 02, 2008 8:03:00 PM, Blogger Jonathon said...

I am from Washington state and have moved here to Utah to go to school at BYU. I have never seen such bigotry as I have seen in this rivalry. The diplomatic side of me would say "It's equal hatred on both sides...It's from both sides, not just one." - but this would be dishonest on my part. Sure BYU has it's share of jerks, but as a person from out of state who has lived in SLC for 2 years and now in Provo for a few months I can say this. The majority of BYU students in Provo are from out of state, and want to beat Utah because its our cross-town rival...simple as that. From my observations, BYU students couldn't give a crap about Utah. Ute fans hate, hate, HATE BYU because a. they are not lds or b. they could not get into BYU and therefore desire to label BYU as "people who think they are better than everyone else." Mostly, it is people who don't REALLY care about Utah football, but just want to use BYU as a channel to take out their bigotry. That said, half of my family are U alumni and have no part in the bigoted part of the rivalry and are really good people. This is the side of the rivalry where it can be considered "fun"....but the way I have been treated since living in SLC the last 2 years speaks volumes about how I feel about this messed up rivalry.

On the other hand...I disagree with your comparison of BYU and Utah misbehaviors. Yelling religious slurs and drinking alcohol that was illegally brought into a venue does not compare to a group of people booing an individual.


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