Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Have you no decency?

Here is a great editorial done by my partner on the sports desk, David Mortimer.

Viewpoint: Rivalry shouldn't interfere with work

Some of you may have heard about the taunts, slurs and snowballs that came hurling from Ute fans and hit the media trying to interview BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall (especially if you follow The Salt Lake Tribune's Jay Drew on Twitter). Misguided hate is pretty much expected - on both sides of the rivalry - but there is no reason for the news reporters to be victims of it. They weren't there as BYU fans (in fact, from what I know about Jay Drew I'm pretty sure he's a Utah fan), only working journalists. But because these unruly fans had no sense of decency (and no stadium security willing to stop them), the rivalry animosity got out of hand once again.

I wasn't at the game, but David and our two football writers were there right in the middle of it. Our head honcho Rich Evans asked David to write about it, first to confirm that it actually happened (a lot of Ute fans were incredulous about Jay Drew's tweets) and also to argue that Utah has no excuse to not build a better facility for visiting team postgame press conferences, now that they have some Pac-12 money.

The rivalry can get pretty heated on both sides of Point of the Mountain, and I've heard a lot of talk about the need for everyone to calm down. I agree with that. But I will admit that it's hard for me to see the balance in this rivalry hatred. I thought it was dumb for Max Hall to say so blatantly that he hates the University of Utah. But even though I wouldn't say so in a press conference, my imperfect self would probably be just as unforgiving if beer had been poured on my family at Rice-Eccles Stadium.* And the Hall Family isn't the only example. My grandfather-in-law has been given the beer treatment as well. And my mom, when she was a BYU flag girl back in the Jim MacMahon days, had beer cans thrown at her.

I know last year at LaVell Edwards Stadium there was an altercation involving Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's wife. It's embarrassing to see that happen in Cougar Nation, and I am not excusing that behavior at all. But at least action was taken by BYU and those responsible had consequences to deal with. Meanwhile, stadium security and Utah's athletic director Chris Hill (oh, excuse me, Doctor Chris Hill) stood by and let the snowballs fly. And have let the beer cans fly for more than 20 years.

I'm trying to look at everything fairly. But from what I can tell, the Utah fanbase is much more juvenile and dangerous. Now, I know not every single Ute is so bad. I have a few friends from my mission who go to the U who are some of my all-time favorite people from my mission. And they keep the rivalry playful and good-natured.

The way a rivalry should be.

*If you go here, you can read a Ute student give his opinion - and totally make a fool of himself in the process - on why it was impossible for beer to be thrown on Max Hall's family. The three prongs of his argument?: 1) Rice-Eccles Stadium doesn't sell beer. 2) It is extremely difficult and laborious to smuggle it in. (Uh, yeah right. Beer gets in all the time. To be honest, it probably gets smuggled in to LaVell Edwards Stadium occasionally too.) And 3) even if someone did miraculously manage to smuggle beer into the stadium, there's no way he would let it sit through the entire game! He would have drank it all well before then! Oh, I see. So your football fans don't drink beer, and yet they're a bunch of drunks.

Taking a look through the Daily Utah Chronicle makes me even more grateful to work for a newspaper that is actually part of a legitimate journalism program at a distinguished university.

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