After reading the amazing conversation on gay marriage below, I am in the mood for something a little lighter. How about sports? Mormons enjoys sports as much as any group … maybe more than most, since we are sober at sporting events. Anyone out there who is associated with BYU knows that the football team is a passion for many Mormons, perhaps even more so after two straight losing seasons. Just visit Cougarboard or CougarBlueII and you can witness the continuing interest in BYU football, even though the season ended several weeks ago with an ignominious loss to the University of Utah by a score of 3-0.
Many fans are calling for Coach Gary Crowton’s job, but fortunately that will not happen this year. Meanwhile, the basketball program is thriving. Just a few years ago, fans were having similar doubts about Coach Steve Cleveland, but this year’s team recently defeated No. 25-ranked Oklahoma State, and star center Rafael Araujo was just selected by the Sporting News as the National Player of the Week.
Unfortunately, the game against Oklahoma State is now the subject of some controversy. You see, one of Oklahoma State’s starting players — Daniel Bobick — formerly played for BYU. During this recent game, BYU fans relentlessly booed Bobick, who nevertheless turned in Oklahoma State’s best performance and almost won the game for them. More details come from this BYU Newsnet story:
Saturday night’s defeat of Oklahoma State was a huge win for the BYU basketball squad, yet due to the fans, it resulted in an even larger loss for the university. “Coach Keller leaned over to me and said, ‘Daniel, what’s wrong with your church?’” said Daniel Bobik, Oklahoma State guard, former Cougar and active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The BYU crowd at the Delta Center made a much stronger case than just the expected and semi-deserved boos that Bobik received. They took comments a step further by shouting remarks such as, “This is what happens when you leave the church” and “You’re a traitor to your religion.” “After Daniel got home and had some time to think, he said the comment from his coach was more painful than losing the game,” said Natalie Bobik, Daniel Bobik’s wife.
Val Hale, athletic director for BYU, issued a statement Monday, Dec. 8, encouraging fans to be more mindful of the impressions they leave with their behavior.
Now, I am happy to let the folks on Cougarboard sort out their views on this from the perspective of a fan (short for “fanatic”), but I am interested in thinking about this from from the perspective of a faithful Church member. What are the limits of appropriate behavior for a faithful Latter-day Saint at sporting events?
Here is one principle that I hope most of us can agree on: while LDS sports fans may not be distinguishable from every group of fans in the world, they should at least rise above the level of fans like those students at recent the University of Wisconsin football games, who abuse and insult and threaten opposing fans. That should be fairly uncontroversial.
How about this stricter standard: LDS sports fans should consider the effect of their behavior on the reputation of the Church, and thus, they should not boo referees, opposing players, or their own coach or team.
Two viewpoints from Cougarboard. First, pro-booing:
I think this whole thing is a joke. Before you guys tear me apart again and start quoting GA’s and Ensign articles (only on CougarBoard…), consider a couple of points.
This is D1 basketball. Getting harassed by the crowd comes with the territory. Shucks, it starts in High School! I for one would be really surprised if Bobik was shaken up by this. I’m sure he’s been razzed before.
If you think BYU fans were out of control on Saturday (and I wasn’t there, so I can’t have an opinion), consider some of the antics of other fans. The Cameron Crazies at Duke do things way worse than this. If Bobik was allegedly shaken up, he’d have cried like a 2nd string QB after a game at Cameron (Duke’s Court).
I personally think that it was silly, and annoying, to boo Daniel. It does create a negative image of BYU and, by association, the LDS Church. Those that were truly offended because of careless comments deserve an apology. Those that were offended because they were looking to take offense need to be more forgiving. Hopefully we as fans will improve our behavior but I believe that we are simply too mortal to live up to some expectations.
My impression is that BYU fans are held to a higher standard than fans at other universities. Is that fair?