The Legislature Should Stay Out of the BYU/Utah Brouhaha

Jordan GarnWhat matters most in the Beehive State is and always will be God, family and (insert “Utah” or “BYU” here). So forget about Medicaid expansion or education funding. As Ignacio from “Nacho Libre” would say, “let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.”

For my part, I bleed red (well, I guess we all do.  Except Senator Bramble, who has premium unleaded coursing through his veins.).  I’m a U alum, a Crimson Club member and a decade-long football season ticket holder. Placing my faith in the Mighty Utes has won me many a meal from lawmakers of a bluer persuasion. (Here’s to you, Senators Weiler and Urquhart, and former Rep. Butterfield.) I have rushed the field in euphoria after Utah victories over the Team Down South. And in all fairness, I have also buried my face in my hands upon defeat — but it happened so long ago that my memory is pretty fuzzy on that last point.

Yet, I can unequivocally say that Utah is wrong for abandoning the hardcourt iteration of its BYU rivalry. You don’t cancel the rivalry game for anything short of a World War — and that’s not hyperbole speaking, because over the last century literally the only other time this game was cancelled happened when Hitler and Mussolini were running amok in Europe.  

And you certainly don’t cancel the rivalry game under the guise of sportsmanship. Rivalries, by their nature, are heated — and that high level of emotion inevitably leads to the bruising of egos and bodies alike. Coach Larry K. and Dr. Chris Hill were apparently unwilling to let BYU keep its monopoly on all things holier-than-thou, as they recently unfurled their own barrage of indignant self-righteousness. Instead of using the scoreboard for revenge, Utah basically took its ball and went home.

Instead of cancelling, perhaps Coach K and Dr. Hill need to employ a little compassion and empathy. Just maybe they need to consider what it would be like to be an adult who is micro-managed to the point of dictating the terms of one’s facial hair while trying to reconcile said policy with the University namesake looking like a stunt double for the Duck Dynasty cast.  I want to punch someone just thinking about it.  

The powers-to-be at BYU weren’t about to stand idly by. Coach Rose fired back questioning Utah’s integrity for going back on its word (never mind they have also canceled games and broke its word in the past) and wondering aloud whether Utah would have cancelled the game if it was scheduled to be played in the Huntsman Center.

I am starting to feel like Coach K and Coach Rose are in the back seat of my Suburban en route to summer vacation and an idle threat to turn around is in order. Even Senator Weiler and GOP Chairman James Evans think they need to grow up and get along.

It’s gotten to the point there is the possibility the Legislature weighs in. House Speaker Greg Hughes recently confirmed that some Legislators considered running bills forcing the rivalry football game be played and wonders if similar measures are under consideration now.

For his part, Senator Dabakis thinks the Legislature should keep its hands off the game. And while it’s surprising to hear a Democrat advocating to keep government’s fingerprints off such an economic generator, Dabakis is right.  

Grown men shouldn’t be forced to schedule a game any more than they should be forced to shave.