Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Riddance to the "Holy War" Rivalry

Am I the only one who is jumping for joy that the BYU/Utah "Holy War" rivalry as we know it may be coming to an end?  I, for one, would LOVE it if we stopped playing Utah every year. In fact, I'd be totally fine if we never played them again! The proponents of the rivalry may say, "But it's such a great game! It's almost always a tight match and so fun to watch!" I partly agree, but mostly disagree. Yes, it is almost always a tight match, but I have rarely been to a "great" BYU/Utah game that was fun to watch. Usually I'm either tearing my hair out and biting my nails off, or fearing for my life. I don't call that "fun." 

This might be shocking to hear, but I do not hate the University of Utah. Yeah, yeah, pick your jaw back up off the ground and keep reading. My brother went to the U. My father taught for the U. I almost went to the U. I grew up in Ute country. I lived in downtown Salt Lake until I was 8 years old, and Sandy (still very much in Ute territory) after that. The church building that I went to when I was little was literally on the University of Utah campus. They have a fantastic law program, a great medical program, and a fabulous cancer center that made the last 15 months of my father's life as good as they possibly could have been. I am very grateful for a lot of things that the U has done and will do in the future.

However, there is one major thing I don't like about the U-- self-righteous Utah fans who can't stop bashing BYU and, more importantly, the LDS Church. I have come to discover that a lot of these "fans" who bleed red don't even go to the U and a lot of them aren't even alumni. They just want an excuse to make fun of Mormons and say how much they hate the religion and the Church-owned university, BYU. They can't stop blabbing on about how BYU shoves religion down its students' throats and can't imagine the injustice that is caused by the honor code. My response? You don't have to go to BYU. All the students who go to BYU chose to go there and chose to live the honor code. Want to know the main reason I chose BYU over the U? The honor code. Am I weird because of that? Maybe, but I don't care. You have no right to tell me that we are all being brainwashed or whatever you want to say about us "Zoobs" or "Zoobies" (a joke I don't even get . . .), when I chose to go to the Y and am very glad I did. Do I make fun of people who chose to go to the U? No. If you don't want to go to BYU, don't go to BYU. Then shut your mouth.

For exhibit A, I refer you to Max Hall's infamous "I hate everything about Utah" speech. Should Max have made those comments, especially in that context? No. Do I agree with everything he said? No. Did he have a point? Yes. It is 100% inexcusable that his family or any other BYU fans would be harassed like that. He shouldn't have generalized his statements to say he hated everything about Utah, but hating those kind of fans and what they did, I feel is totally justified. I have never been to a BYU/Utah game at Rice Eccles. Why? Because I'm afraid I will be killed. Literally. Or get mugged or have beer dumped on my head, at the very least. If it's just a "fun" rivalry, then I shouldn't have to fear for my life every time I see someone wearing a red shirt. It's NOT FUN. Who in the world thinks that's fun?

Not all Utah fans are bad people. Because of where I grew up, I have lots of friends who went to or are currently attending the U. My brother and his wife are big Utah fans, and I still love them. We do make occasional light-hearted jabs at each other (I love to threaten that I'm going to teach their daughter the BYU fight song as soon as she can talk and make her wear a BYU onesie), but we never rub it in each other's faces when our team wins. We are capable of having civil conversations about the rivalry and we respect each other's opinions. But that is extremely rare-- it is very hard to find a Utah fan who will even remotely respect me, no matter what.

For example, when I went to the Holy War football game last year, I ran into a friend of mine from high school. She was all decked out in Utah garb-- from the bold red shirt to the feathers in her hair and a red painted face. I, of course, was in my cougar blue. Despite our very obvious differing loyalties, she ran up and gave me a hug. The friend she was with (who I didn't know) looked at us like we had each grown an extra head. She could not fathom that her friend was touching (hugging, even!!!!) a Cougar fan. She gave me one of the dirtiest looks I have ever seen. I wish I could have heard their conversation after we parted ways. She probably made my friend take a shower to get rid of all the BYU cooties before she came near her again.

I'll admit that not all BYU fans are great sportsmen, either. I've heard plenty of profanity come out of Cougar fans' mouths during Holy War games, and that's not right. We love to win, and it is a great feeling when we beat Utah, but it does go too far sometimes. However, in my honest opinion, Utah fans are a thousand times worse. When Utah wins, they won't shut up about how much BYU sucks. When BYU wins, they blame the refs or say it was an unfair match, and again, they won't shut up.

It's true that BYU fans, myself included, brag about good wins ("Harline is still open", 4th and 18, etc.), but I have never heard a huge, decade-long bashing campaign against the U after an unfair loss. Am I still angry about the bad loss last year? Yes. But am I still going on and on about how unfair it was and how much Utah sucks because of it? No. I'd much rather forget about it and move on with my life. And more importantly, I very rarely hear Utah fans bragging about a win-- they brag about BYU losing. There is a big difference between the two. Many Utah fans are more anti-BYU than they are pro-Utah, and that's what bothers me most. They don't love Utah-- they hate BYU and the LDS Church. I, however, am not anti-Utah. I am pro-BYU. Why can't we just cheer for our teams and then walk away without trying to kill each other?

Again, not all Utah fans are terrible. These are generalizations I'm making that certainly don't apply to everyone who wears crimson. But the ones who are terrible have ruined it for everyone else.

Alright, I've probably gone on long enough by now. The bottom line is that this rivalry has never been civil-- and when it's not civil, it's not fun. I'm sick of it. I want to have a good experience cheering for my team and not be terrified of the repercussions if the Cougs lose. My life and my sanity shouldn't depend on it. So I say good riddance to the holy war. If we get rid of the rivalry, then maybe the Utes will just go off to their PAC12 castle and leave us alone . . . Fine by me!


  1. Tasha,

    You make some valid arguments, and this was very entertaining to read. I don't think that you or I would feel so strongly if we weren't fully invested. However, because we feel so strongly one way or another show that we obviously care a great deal about this game.

    The only point that I would like to make is that this game is more that just a game it is a huge event across the state. I generally will watch it from my home or a neighbors home with a mixture of both BYU and Utah grads and we are all able to enjoy ourselves together before and after the game. During the game our knuckles are white as we clench our teeth and hold our fists tightly to whatever is nearby. There are many poeple that don't watch any other game all year. Or any other sporting event for that matter. What about them? What are they going to look forward to? What about extra revenue this game brings in to small business owners because it is such a large event?

    I absolutely agree that this game has gotten far too intense. Especially over the last several years. But won't that die down now that they are in different conferences and the game will generally be played at the beggining of the year? Isn't there room in your heart to seek revenge for last years loss?

    Alas, if it does come to an end it must needs be after a mighty Cougar blow out of the Utes.

    1. Once again, it took me way too long to remember who you are, "naomijane" :)

      Maybe I'm just heartless, but in my opinion, if some people are so hung up on the rivalry that it's the only game they watch or care about all year, they probably need to expand their horizons. I don't personally know any of these people, so maybe that's why I feel that way, but I'd say they need to get a life. I hate the rivalry enough that it causes me to have no sympathy whatsoever for those people. Tell them to go watch Michigan / Ohio State and get over it! :) haha.

      I definitely agree with you on the last point, though! We've still got a game scheduled this year-- perfect opportunity to avenge last year! Let's blow them out of the water, get it over with, then sever all ties. I like that plan.