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!