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Three realizations about the ‘Holy War’
- Updated: September 18, 2013
Brett shares 3 personal realizations which helped him come to enjoy the BYU-Utah rivalry a bit more.
Being a fan is weird.
You have a favorite sports team. You chose to support this team at some point, likely in your youth, because of your parents (followed or rebelled against) or because of proximity or logos or colors or coach or scheme or TV exposure or we don’t even remember why, it just happened. And then we’re loyal.
In addition to that oddity, to many, it’s not enough to cheer your favorite team. No, there’s also a second team you must have regard for in an equal but inverse manner to your favorite team.
In the context of being a BYU fan, this causes an entire circus surrounding the game against Utah each year — at least among fans. Did Kyle Van Noy call the Utah game “our Super Bowl” or did he mean the residents of Utah? Does Max Hall hate me? Was the Utah baptism video a shot at BYU and its sponsoring religion or just some dudes not fully thinking about videoing an act decided upon because hey, we’re in a pool? (It was filmed one month ago, BTW.) Should I be offended by it? Should I tell others not to be offended? Surely I should judge based on my perceptions of this action, then generalize it to all Utah players, coaches, and fans. Yea, verily.
Every quote, every action from anyone involved in either program is scrutinized and analyzed and assigned to stereotypes. Every past (cherry-picked) result is used as some sort of “proof” of my team’s superiority. Every year, fans trot out the same tired tripe about BCS bowls, national championships, Heisman trophies, the honor code, and a whole set of jokes that have been told by myriad fanbases across the country for decades.
(“Pay ‘em for the pizza! LOLOLOL! Good one, Saul!” And are these the same people who tell the same jokes and bring up the same 1984-type arguments every year? Seems like an empty way to live. We’re a collection of Ned Ryersons from Groundhog Day, but with an actual capability to know we are saying the same things over and over — and also stretched over an entire year, if we please. “Am I right or am I right or am I right?”)
Isn’t this tiresome? Yes, I do enjoy BYU and Utah football games, and it does churn my stomach when BYU loses. For the rest of the day, at least. But fan behavior, however, is tiresome. Typical fan behavior surrounding the rivalry is ultimately a method of behavior in which it is pretty unfulfilling to participate. I’m not trying to hold myself up here, but honestly, is the following how it is really supposed to go?
Utah Fan: Hey, nice BYU shirt. Three in a row, baby! GO UTES! *Throws a U*
Me: Ah man, I am a lesser person than you, aren’t I?!? You got me!
* * *
BYU Fan: Hey, where’s your national championship trophy? NINETEEN EIGHTY FOUR!
Utah Fan: I am so ashamed of myself. I have no honor.
I have come to some realizations that help me cope with the Groundhog Day-like status of BYU-Utah fan interaction. I have no idea if these are profound or not, but over time they have helped me stay a little more grounded to things that ultimately matter. You may say to yourself you don’t wish to be grounded because that’s what rivalry is about — which is fine. That’s a choice to which any fan is welcome. I just wish to share some thoughts that may be interesting to those who may feel similarly to me.
So, my realizations:
FILTERING “YEWT” AND “ZOOB” SAVES HEADACHES
This realization is simple. If you’re like me and you do not enjoy mindless, repeated rivalry drivel, turn off your brain/eyes/ears as soon as you see/hear someone use the word “yewt” or “zoob.” I realized that anyone using those terms has nothing important to say. Read it/hear it, turn off your brain, and spare yourself from the stupidity.
(This is a topic that could be explored in full elsewhere, but “yewt” actually runs deeper than a childish nickname. There are real people called Utes not involved with the university — using that term could be ugly toward real Utes. I’d encourage anyone who uses the term to consider that.)
ONLINE IDIOTS ARE ALL IN HIGH SCHOOL
It surprises me every time when I learn somebody I “know” online is much younger than expected.
That was a great setup for a police-sting joke. But seriously, online (especially on Twitter) I operate under the assumption that everyone with whom I interact is the same age as me or just a little bit older.
When Miss Utah made her crack about needing to bring home a title for Utah at Miss America because the Jazz won’t (funny and trolltastic, by the way, and I’m a Jazz fan), her mentions became a little unsightly. I don’t know why I ventured into them, but I did. I began to notice a trend: a lot of the people (guys) using the harshest language were high school kids, which I learned upon inspection of their profiles.
Having run two different sports-specific Twitter accounts that both now sit around 3,000 followers, I’ve been the target of a decent amount of trolling and sometimes vitriol. A good portion of these folks seem to be between 16-19 years old.
And even when they aren’t, there’s a lot of hothead/meathead in a lot of fans typical of a high school-aged boy. So my realization? Just assume all online idiots are misguided high school children and move on. They likely are, but if not, deserve nothing more than such treatment anyway. I remember being that age, and it was frustrating when older people were dismissive because of my age. But if you act like a child, don’t get mad when I’m dismissive of you.
THE HATE IS MOSTLY SYNTHETIC
The first two were a little lighter, so sorry to get a little more serious here — and for venturing all the way into tl;dr territory.
There are people, especially those who live in Utah, who genuinely do harbor hate toward individuals or groups in regards to the BYU-Utah rivalry. I am not saying that the hate is fake — emotions are as real as whoever is feeling them says they are.
But the genesis of that hate in many instances is synthetic. Have you donned blue, been on a BYU roster, and competed against Utah in an athletic event? Most likely, no. In reality, is the existence of the other team/school an affront to you and good sensibility?
So why do we hate? Because we are told we must.
Even if a person has experienced something bad — say an opposing fan dumped beer on your mom in the stands — what are the chances that person’s hate originated because someone told them “we hate those guys”? I’m guessing pretty high. Unless you competed in the rivalry, how else does it begin?
Even within the game itself, I tend to believe this holds especially true for players. Let’s concede there are a group of players from the state of Utah who grew up around the rivalry and developed, at whatever real or legitimate level you think there can be for it, hatred for the school on the other side. They played against kids in high school, developed rivalries, and the hate has a true genesis of some sort. I’ll concede that such a group exists.
What about players from Texas and California, where tons of players on both rosters come from? Like Brian Logan explained, he cared nothing about the rivalry when arriving on campus. How do those players suddenly hate? They are told to by fans, taught to by teammates, or asked to by coaches.
They develop it quickly, because in a team setting you stand behind your brothers, and it becomes very real, very quickly. Those planted seeds of hate become justified on the field when someone meets players from the other team who have also convinced themselves they must hate you too — so then every word and deed can then be assigned to motives that fit the reasons for the hate.
The hate is self-perpetuating in its counterfeit-like origins and then prophetically self-fulfilling in its discovery. It’s a very similar process for fans as well.
This realization has stripped me of 99% of any hate I may have had for Utah and its fans. Tradition became a very poor reason for me to harbor hate. This wasn’t a morally-based decision, either, though I know that the religion in which I believe teaches that hate is wrong. It was a practical one. What good does it do me to become so obsessed by the Utes and their fans? I can’t enjoy things in my own right without tying it to some sort of mocking-filled one-upsmanship? Can’t I just enjoy watching my team play football? Yes. I can.
I want BYU to beat Utah more than anything this week. I’m tired of seeing my favorite team lose, I’m tired of the mark that puts on even otherwise really good seasons, and I just want to celebrate winning the game for once. But it’s not because I hate Utah. It’s another football team that wears red, is in close proximity, and who BYU plays every year in usually-entertaining contests. That’s fun. The repetition — that’s rivalry. Not hate.
Almost all of us are told in some way or another that “hate is rivalry, rivalry is hate.” This realization helped me dismiss the hate and feel less like a weirdo by choosing to abstain. Because it’s manufactured, synthetic, and self-fulfilling.
* * * * *
Maybe I just “don’t get college football” and am a wet blanket on a lot of fun that others have with this game. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket — the fun is great, I just don’t understand the part of it that is emotionally charged and could turn from fun to fight at any second and uses childish nicknames for people on the other side. That’s not fun to me. There’s plenty of discussion, analysis, and camaraderie to be had outside of decades-old tripe and empty, ribbing one-upsmanship.
These realizations have helped me enjoy the rivalry, and the entire season, a little bit more.