By BRYAN GRAY
The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis County Clipper.
At a local Starbucks last week, I was approached by a regular morning companion who saw me turn over a newspaper sports page.
“Are you and I the only people in Utah who couldn’t care less who wins the BYU-Utah football game?” he asks.
“I’m sure we’re not alone,” I replied. “There must be at least seven other people – maybe 10!”
BYU-Utah games are more than a rivalry. Many call it a “Holy War” linked to religious sentiments more than collegiate ties. To others it is an obsession; the outcome colors their life and self-worth for months to follow.
A financial advisor told me he was attending the game with his son after the young boy plaintively cried, “Dad, I have never seen BYU beat Utah in my entire life. Will it ever happen?” The man calmed the boy, explained that miracles do happen to those who believe, and paid a “scalper’s price” to purchase two seats.
I can understand the interest in a specific game. But this year’s contest, as in past years, veers from the game itself. This year we had a mock baptism belittling LDS traditions and photographs of a BYU starter embarrassing himself at a Las Vegas nightclub. (He was suspended for five games). We also had the annual insults: “Utah fans are rude and crude and drunk and disgusting” while “BYU fans are arrogant stuff-shirts whose idea of ‘kicking back’ is returning for more mashed potatoes at the Chuck-A-Rama.”
Rivalry taunts can fill scrapbooks. Who can forget the BYU player who, following a loss, screamed that the victorious Ute would one day be “pumping my gas?” When BYU and Utah meet, there is nobody saying “may the best team win.” The heathens and the brethren all know who the “best team” is, and it has little to do with the play on the field.
This is my reaction to this year’s BYU-Utah feud. First, the “best team” in Utah might well be the Utah State Aggies, who barely lost to the Utes and to the Southern California Trojans. Secondly, the name “Bronco” is a better football name than Kyle even though Bronco Mendenhall’s coaching decisions create a lot of shaking heads. Thirdly, chanting “BYU sucks” does nothing to enhance academic credibility of the University of Utah.
But my major reaction is that Utahns should ignore the delirium of the Red and Blue game and worry more about real problems: the 100,000 dead in Syria and the two million refugees chased into neighboring countries; the one in seven Americans living in poverty; the recent decision by Congress to cut another 1.8 million people from the food stamps rolls; the recurring power of Al-Qaeda in troubled slums of Africa; and, the threatened shutdown of the federal government.
Call me crazy, but last weekend’s report that inflation-adjusted median income for U.S. families is now the same as it was 24 years ago is more critical to Utah households than Utah’s 20-13 win over Brigham Young University.
Hopefully, there are those seven other people who agree with me – maybe even 10!