Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fans of the University of Utah: Proving Max Hall Right since 1892

You may not have noticed it, but last weekend, my beloved BYU defeated its archrival Utah in overtime, 26-23. The score itself has become secondary to the endless brouhaha surrounding the post-game comments made by BYU's quarterback, Max Hall.

After the game, when asked about his feelings towards the University of Utah, Max stated ""I don't like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them. I hate their program, their fans. I hate everything. It felt really good to send those guys home. I think the whole university and their fans and the organization is classless."

Apparently it is no longer okay to hate your rivals. This blunt statement has resulted in weeks worth of hand-wringing and guilt trawling by the U of U faithful who are shocked SHOCKED to hear such "hate speech" coming out of someone from a school run by the Mormon church. From talk radio, to newspaper op-eds, Utes all across the nation escaped to their parents basements to express the new-found hatred for such hatred.

This reaction by the Utes is nothing short of disingenuous. The only thing the Running Utes actually run from is reality. In 2004, Utah Quarterback Alex Smith, in discussing BYU said "I really hate them. Playing in the game helped me understand. They are the most arrogant people." in 2004, Utah defensive player Morgan Scalley said " I hate those pricks. I hate them with a passion." In 2002, Utah quarterback Brett Elliott said everybody hates BYU because "they're so cocky, it's ridiculous."

Apparently, the University of Utah only discovered its hatred for hate when BYU said it.

Let me say that I do not condone Max Hall's words. Max clearly paints with too broad of a brush and Max Hall himself said as much in his apology the following day. I do not hate the University and its fans, nor do I consider them all classless. I have too many friends and family members who cheer for Utah to possibly feel anything other than respect for the school. It is important to note, however, that Max Hall's comments did not occur in a vacuum and, while his comments do not apply to all fans, they do apply to a disproportionately vocal minority.

When pressed to explain his feelings Max Hall stated "They threw beer on my family and stuff last year and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don't respect them and they deserved to lose." And what are those other "nasty things?" During last year's game at the University of Utah, some Utah fans managed to smuggle in a blow up doll on which they wrote the name of Max Hall's mother. They then found Max's family and had simulated sex with the doll right in front of them. Couple that with the hundreds of obscene text messages Max's wife got from Ute fans and the beer throwing proclivities of the Ute faithful and it is easy to understand why Max uses the word Utah and hate in the same sentence. Would any of us do otherwise?

University of Utah fans need to understand that these incidents do not represent a tempest in a tea pot. These are not isolated incidents.

I have every reason in the world to cheer for the University of Utah. I was born and raised 30 minutes from the campus. Both of my parents graduated from the University of Utah. My cousin used to be the coach for the University's cheer squad. However, shortly before I was born, my father took my older brothers to a Utah home football game against BYU. There he witnessed BYU fan after BYU fan being harassed by the vocal Ute minority. He watched Utah fans hurl obscenities at them. Cut them off on the streets to and from the stadium. And yes, pour beer on them. My father was so disgusted by the actions of his University that he switched allegiances and ended up sending all five of his kids to BYU.

Apparently, my fathers disappointment with the University of Utah is not exclusively his. This fall, Sports Illustrated conducted a nationwide survey of College Football fans. Fans were asked questions like "What is your biggest conference rival" and "how would you rate the tailgating scene on game day." Answers were them split out by conference. Here are some results that Utah fans should find as interesting as they are embarrassing:

Fans of the nine schools in the Mountain West Conference, when asked which school has the rudest fans, selected first Wyoming (28.2%) and then, drum roll please, the University of Utah (19.7%). When discussing who has the rudest fans, you don't even need to bring up Wyoming, it is a given. It is like when discussing the best movies of all time you don't even bother bringing up Star Wars because everybody knows they are the best. The real battle is for second place and Utah wins the battle of the classless hands down.

When asked "what is your favorite stadium to visit in your teams conference?" BYU came in first with 19.2% of the vote. Utah? 5th place with 10.9%.

When asked which school has the most polite fans for visitors? BYU came in second with 16.5% (behind only Air Force). Utah? They ranked 7 out of nine teams with 2.2% of the vote. When your fan base can only out class urine- tossing hooligans in Laramie, you have got issues.

So, in terms of actual fan perceptions, the University of Utah is considered to have some of the worst fans, while BYU is considered to have some of the best.

So, Ute fans, rather than focusing on the hate-spewing mote in BYU's eye, maybe you ought to pay a little more attention to the beer-tossing beam in your own.