Is it OK to Like BYU Sports?

Growing up, I wasn’t a huge sports fan, though I did like the late 70s LA Dodgers (I was 12 when they went to the World Series in 1977) and would listen to the games on my transistor radio at night before bed. (Sometime in the 80s I stopped following the Dodgers and became an Angels fan. Must be the masochistic streak in me, the same one that roots for the Houston Astros.)

But when I went to BYU, going to football games (followed by a stop at the creamery for ice cream) was a cheap date, and I guess I got swept up in school spirit. My freshman year was Steve Young’s junior year, and I went to all the home games my first two fall semesters, plus I saw BYU play at the Rose Bowl against UCLA and at the Holiday Bowl against Missouri mere weeks before I entered the MTC.

Yesterday, my friend and fellow apostate Mormon Odell told me that he has a hard time rooting for BYU because he feels like he doesn’t want to support its sponsoring institution and therefore be seen as condoning the actions and teachings of the LDS church. Another friend of mine tells me that, growing up in the 70s, she saw horrible examples of racist behavior by BYU fans and players and thus cannot support such a program. I can understand and respect their positions, but I don’t see things that way.

For me, it’s just sports, and BYU happens to be both my alma mater and the local sports team (I live in Provo, in case you were wondering). And one of my children is currently a student at BYU. Obviously, there are aspects of Mormonism with which I completely disagree and which I would not want anyone to think I condoned or endorsed. But I don’t think that attending a football game implies complete endorsement of the LDS church or even of the university itself. I once met a guy from New York who was an ardent fan of BYU football but who wasn’t Mormon (and never had been) and who was quite a beer drinker. He just liked their style of play and was impressed by LaVell Edwards. If he can root for BYU, so can I.

I’ve had season football tickets the last three seasons, but this year I completely forgot to reorder, so I’ll be watching at home (thank heavens for that ESPN deal). My viewing of said games does not imply endorsement of any views expressed or actions of Brigham Young University or the LDS church. Go Cougars!

5 Responses to Is it OK to Like BYU Sports?

  1. Michael says:

    Go Dodgers!! I’m a lifelong fan, even in years (like this one) when it is hard to root for them.

    I was a BYU student during the McMahon and Young years and went to my share of games, including the 1984 Holiday Bowl (which was after I had graduated and was living in California).

    But, lately, they are just painful to watch. Every game I’ve been to since that Holiday Bowl has been capped by a complete collapse — choke… I was just thinking today on my way to work that I don’t know the name of a single player on this year’s football team and I really don’t care. I have no more desire to watch their games than I would to watch the University of Texas, for instance. (I do not live in Utah or Texas.)

    Just complete and utter apathy.

  2. Elaine says:

    Following a team does not imply that you endorse the religious beliefs of the owner/sponsor of the team or that of any member of the team. So, you know, if you like BYU football, it means you like the sport and want to support the local team. It does not mean that you are endorsing Mormonism or any of its tenets.

    I too, am a diehard Dodgers fan, although I don’t follow the team as closely as I did when I lived in Los Angeles, and especially, coincidentally enough, during the middle and late 1970s, when I lived just over 10 miles from Dodger Stadiium and got to go go a good number of games every season.

    On the other hand, now that I live in Fresno, I root for the Grizzlies when I go to the games, even though they are the Triple-A minor league team associated with the San Francisco Giants. Well, except when they’re playing Albuquerque, which is affiliated with the Dodgers. Cheering for the Grizzlines does not make me a Giants fan. It makes me a Grizzlies fan.

  3. Elaine says:

    Darn it. That should be “go to”. *sigh*

  4. Diane Sower says:

    We cannot limit our football enjoyment just because we don’t like parts of the institution. Can we all agree that not all football players from BYU are mormons? And that they’d kill themselves many times over to get the best black player in the nation?

  5. Odell says:

    Its hard to root for a team that is used by a church to promote a religious dogma I no longer agree with. Fortunately for Diane the Dodgers aren’t owned and used by Scientology.

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