Loyal Cougars

Three realizations about the ‘Holy War’

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:


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.)


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 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.


  1. Dan

    September 18, 2013 at 10:43 am

    A good post, Brett, but this is easier said than done. It’s easy to see the 5% bad eggs and get carried away by emotion. Thanks for bringing me back down to solid ground. Go cougs.

  2. Sanpete

    September 18, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Musical accompaniment for your third point:


    “turn off your brain/eyes/ears as soon as you see/hear someone use the word “yewt” or “zoob.””

    That would require ignoring about 90% of posts about the U at your sister site. (Which might not be such a bad thing.)

    It’s often hard to tell the real hate from mock hate that’s done in good fun. Which can be a problem.

    • Brett Hein

      September 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Very true about “mock hate.” I joke with Ute friends because we both know how ridiculous the traditional tripe is, so it makes us laugh.

      We have a Utah sister site?

  3. Pingback: Not Just Another Game: A former player’s perspective on BYU-Utah rivalry - Loyal Cougars

  4. Sanpete

    September 18, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    A BYU sister site, Cougar Board. Same ownership, right?

    • Brett Hein

      September 18, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Same owner, but I claim no kinship with a message board on either side as far as ideologies go.

      • Sanpete

        September 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm

        CB claims you, though. Pretty heavy promotion there. I can see you don’t share some of its prevailing, um, values, let’s say. It’s caught in a self-reinforcing feedback loop that makes it hyper-whatever-it-happens-to-be, including hyper-Ute-hating.

        • CBT

          September 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm

          Ignore Sanpete. Hard for this poster to claim any moral ground when his history was CB was to come any act as a troll and a troll only.

          Take your own advice and ignore this dude.

        • Sanpete

          September 18, 2013 at 2:03 pm

          “Troll” meaning “someone I disagree with,” naturally. Anyone can easily verify what I’ve said by visiting CB.

        • Brett Hein

          September 18, 2013 at 2:58 pm

          A partnership doesn’t require me to agree with every single CB user’s opinion, just like CB users don’t agree with each other. “Yewt” and “zoob” are used among Facebook friends and on Twitter just as often. The article is shared on CB, Twitter, Facebook, and via email. This wasn’t a targeted missile at CB.

        • Sanpete

          September 18, 2013 at 3:25 pm

          “This wasn’t a targeted missile at CB.”

          Oh, I never suspected it was directed at CB in particular, and I don’t think you make it appear that way, though at least some at CB seem to think it was.

          I’ve wondered if CB is the source of the currency of the term “Yewt.” I recall seeing a post there that explained it as avoiding the “U-word,” and some other posts that implied the same, so at least in the view of some there it has nothing to do with respect for American Indians or the like as some have said (an explanation I haven’t seen there until today, but that doesn’t mean it’s new). CB has its own lingo that sometimes spreads to other places.

        • Brett Hein

          September 18, 2013 at 3:31 pm

          It would be fascinating to know where the term absolutely originated.

        • Sanpete

          September 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm

          The Urban Dictionary entry is interesting. No reference to the theory that “Yewt” is about not disrespecting the Indian tribe, but plenty of other ideas!


  5. Blue Print

    September 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Actually, the term yewt is to distinguish fans of the U from the noble tribes of real Utes. It seems to me that a school calling itself after a persecuted minority and perverting their real history and identity is the real crime. Shame on you for projecting yourself into their shoes.

    • Brett Hein

      September 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Shame on me? Here comes the indignation! Didn’t think it was a stretch to think that perverting the tribe’s name into a pejorative slur might be offensive. I’m not saying the term is definitely offensive, but to consider that it might be. Given the “persecuted minority” status you yourself have granted the tribe, then such sensitivity is warranted, no?

      At this point, the tribe has all control per NCAA rules. If the Ute tribe does not want the university to use its name, it can withdraw consent and per NCAA rules the school must cease using the name. Also, I think most people can recognize the history of a native tribe and that of a university’s athletic ventures are different. So in those two ways, I’m not sure how it’s being perverted.

    • Fierce 94

      September 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Oh please. I have never seen “Yewt” used in a positive context by a BYU fan. I’m a BYU fan, and even I know that. To say that it is used to differentiate “real” Utes from Utah fans sounds like an excuse for justifying bad trollish behavior. As an out of state BYU fan, I couldn’t agree more with Brett on this article. I appreciated the article. Well done Brett.

      • Brett Hein

        September 18, 2013 at 2:48 pm

        In at least a majority of times I’ve seen the word, it’s clear that it’s pejorative and not merely a descriptive differentiation.

        I guess my problem is I don’t hate Utah. I can see some valid point in examining whether or not the university’s use of the Ute name is good or bad for the tribe. But like I said above, the Ute tribe continues to sanction its use so that part is their decision.

  6. David Tradition Gale (@planetbyu)

    September 18, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    I’ll tell you what I hate – how slow this site loads! 🙂 Although I agree with everything you wrote about the rivalry.

  7. Mars

    September 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    “Maybe I just “don’t get college football”.” Yep. Bad article. Forced and faulty.

    • Fierce 94

      September 18, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      Says the high school troll.

  8. Presten Norton

    September 18, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    I can’t decide if it’s amusing, ironic or pathetic that an honest article about putting things into perspective and cutting back on the trolling… has those exact trolling comments contributed by readers. Brett’s points have been proven to be very valid more by the comment section than by his own words.

  9. Cameron Merrill

    September 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Good article. The longer I frequent the preferred chat site of my team, the more I realize these younger guys are often something I don’t even recognize. Where did all the grown men go?

  10. Marcus

    September 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I agree 100%. I dread the rivalry game/week every year. I almost wouldn’t mind BYU and Utah ending the games for longer than 2 years and let the state relax a bit. I am diehard BYU and grew up in Salt Lake City. I now live in California and I can enjoy the game and season so much more because I’m allowed to focus on what BYU is doing and don’t have the Utah hate in my face every where I go. I was genuinely happy that a university from my home state was invited into the PAC-12 but some of the fans make that a very hard task.

  11. silascrutherton

    September 20, 2013 at 8:35 am

    I am done with the hate. I am so sick of the vocal idiots on the BYU side making me look like one of them. I am so sick of the vocal idiots on the Utah side making my neighbors cringe as well. I think it’s high time that this rivalry goes away for a while. I am hoping against hope that it makes the fringe on both sides go away, so that I can enjoy friendly rivalry with my neighbors, and have this come back to what it should be in the first place – a game.

    • Sanpete

      September 20, 2013 at 8:44 am

      It surprises me how many fans want the rivalry to end rather than be improved. The vast majority of fans aren’t jerks. If more normal fans speak up more, it might help. Just giving up seems unnecessary. I love the rivalry myself.