Monday, November 24, 2008

Losing and Not Worrying

Last Saturday was the annual BYU-Utah football game. Because both teams were highly ranked, there was an air of excitement that hadn't accompanied many of the past games. The Utes had the advantage of home field and the crowd was vocal and extremely supportive of their team. Sadly (at least for our family) the Cougars came out on the short end of things, losing 48-24. Ute fans are now glorying in the great defeat of their hated rival and the Y fans are licking their wounds and preparing for the next collision of the teams. But there were a couple of things I noticed from this year's fray that have given me a clue to the difference between the fan base of each University. Here are a few of my observations.

In past years my family has held season tickets to the Cougar games and we have enjoyed the trips to Provo to attend the contests. In all the years (15 or so) we attended games, there have rarely been encounters with fans who were obnoxious or difficult to handle. A few times we had to deal with people who were sitting in our seats and didn't want to move, but they usually relented when they saw we had the correct tickets. Once, we were near a young fan (high school age) who jumped onto the field and tackled a Ute (male) cheerleader but then was pummeled by said cheerleader. There have also been occasional fans who were rude to the other team and some even used foul language to express themselves (usually these were removed by security or other fans quickly encouraged them to change the tenor of their words). But we have never been subjected to drunk, disorderly, rowdy behavior such as can be seen at every (but especially the BYU/Utah game) contest that is held at Rice/Eccles Stadium (the Utes home field). For some reason, people at Ute football games feel it necessary to 1)consume large amounts of alcohol, and/or 2)try to act as stupidly as possible and 3)make as many 'anti-Mormon' comments as they can. It is sad to have to endure such abuse when it would be so much better to enjoy the games as just games.

Last season, when the Y narrowly eclipsed the score of the U, there was a gracious tone to the words spoken by most of the Y fans in my association. Oh, it was nice to remind those who chided Austin Collie for his "Magic Happens" comments that fourth and 18 was our new chant (after using "Harline is still open" the year before) but even those things were done with a sense of civility and jesting. But the rancor exhibited by the fans who stormed the field and began to exhibit unruly and demeaning behavior was just out of line. Here is a cut from an acquaintance who attended the game in person. Bob is a very mellow guy and has a knack for knowing what to say to put out the flames of rivalry. Yet, even he was unable to completely swallow the things that happened last weekend:

Perhaps the best way to start this post is as follows: Every BYU fan should
attend at least one game on the hill. It's an educational experience unlike any
other I've encountered, never more so than after a BYU loss.

In all of those visits, I've either led a charmed life or managed to defuse
confrontations before they exploded into crises. Maybe it's a combination of
both. I also need to add the following:

I know many quality Utah fans, both LDS and non-LDS, who are not only decent but
classy. They're the sort of people I consider it a privilege to have as

Unfortunately and to paraphrase John Dean, there's a cancer growing on Utah's
fan base, which is malignant and metastasizing. Perhaps the best way to
describe it is that I've had moments when I've wondered just how vile and
virulent the demonstrations are outside the Los Angeles Temple these days.
After Saturday, I no longer need to go to southern California. There's a
segment of Utah's fan base for whom the game is just another arena in which to
wage the same cultural war that's raging on Santa Monica Boulevard -- and with
the same fundamental target. Some may say that that's not so, that it's just
BYU, not its sponsoring organization that they despise. To that all I can say
is go see for yourself.

This year, my "education" went to the post graduate level because we approached
the stadium from the south. Whereas we've always parked to the north, about 2nd
South (near the Pie Pizzaria), this time we walked past the tailgating area. To
Utah's credit, their fans know how to tailgate, something I wish BYU was better
at doing (but know it will likely never happen). However, the comments flow as
freely as the alcohol. To the milder jabs, such as "the quest is over," I
smiled and said "not a chance." To be honest, that flummoxed most of them,
which allowed us to continue to the next verbal barrage.

Interestingly, things calmed way down inside the stadium, at least for me. At
one point, I ran into a neighbor, who's a quality Ute fan, with whom we spent
several minutes chatting amiably. Several other fans, seeing my Quest shirt,
laid into a barrage while we chatted, not quite shouting in my ear but clearly
trying to get my attention and goat. I just carried on, as if they were a
figment of one's imagination and didn't miss a beat with our conversation.
After about a minute, they went silent. When I wished our neighbor well and
turned around, as expected, they had vanished, tired of trying to egg on someone
with no results.

While waiting in the lengthy lines to use the restroom, someone behind me asked
if I realized that I could get mugged inside. I turned around, smiled and
responded that I was fully counting on him and the other good Ute fans to
protect me. That generated a healthy laugh, because I could instantly tell that
he was just tossing out some banter, the sort that's harmless and worth handling
in a humorous manner. We then spent a minute or two, enjoying a quality
conversation about the game, which made the wait go all the quicker.

Someone else in line then pointed out that I might not get mugged but could get
used as a urinal by those waiting behind me. I deliberately waited for a
moment, the better to allow the silence to build some anticipation, smiled and
replied, "can't I just get mugged instead?" Another shared chuckle and a
thankful reminder that the rivalry isn't all pathological hatred.

We sat in the southwest corner, almost directly above the band. There were a
few Utah fans near us, who were all decent and a credit to their school.
Towards the end of the game, I suddenly felt something wet on the back of my
neck and wondered if I was hallucinating. I ran my hand over it and discovered
that it was indeed a liquid of some sort, though devoid of any alcohol. A few
seconds later, it happened again. Where it originated, I know not, just that it
wasn't from the Utah fans who were near us.

Afterwards, I chatted with the wife of one player, who was making her first
visit to the g&sb. She sat not far from us and asked if I had seen the fight
between a drunken and large Ute fan, who came wading into the BYU section and
was tackled by several BYU fans who held him there until the police could come
and remove him. Due to his size and limp behavior, it took several minutes to
physically carry him out of that section.

Time to lay aside diplomacy: I have lost all respect for Kyle Whittingham,
courtesy of what happened with BYU's team set up to do the haka -- in front of
BYU's fans. Utah's players came over into the area, looking for a confrontation
and nearly got it, ala the Oregon player in Las Vegas, when BYU did the haka the
night before the game on the strip. The officials were scrambling to keep it
from developing into a full-fledged fight, with the Ute coaches nowhere to be
seen. Simply put, that sort of behavior is either orchestrated by the coaches
or passively allowed to continue. I told those around me that we were likely to
see a fight occur, before the game was over. Had BYU won, I suspect that would
have been the case.

After the game, John Frank talked about how it was a good thing; that Utah
needed to keep the haka from happening in their house. I find it interesting
that BYU can go to any other stadium, perform the haka and have fans either
enjoy it or ignore it. I thought back to the statement, "he who takes offense
where none is intended is a fool while he who takes offense where offense is
intended is an even bigger fool." Then again, considering that Utah's head
coach took offense when Joe Glenn told a Wyoming student pep rally that he
guaranteed a win and found it necessary to execute an onside kick, while
blowing out the Cowboys, in order to teach Glenn a lesson, that speaks volumes
about him and his "little brother" mindset, as evidenced again on Saturday.

I have long said that I understood why Kyle stayed in Salt Lake: Money and a
comfortable, existing environment. I also think he's a good coach. After what
I saw on Saturday, I want nothing to do with him, ever. However, I have no
doubt but what he already did that to us a long time ago.

It's obvious that he's purged his Lavell protégé roots and gone the Urban Meyer
route, a modus operandi that Pat Reilly applied to Red Auerbach when he described
Boston's management as "the Klingons of the NBA." I want a coach who's
comfortable with who and what he is and doesn't need to act like a petty bully
or thug by sending or allowing his players to disrupt another team's pre-game
activities. If you're good, really good, you save it for the field. You don't
need to go around looking for offense in everything you see and hear. Kyle is a
good coach and has shown it. However, he's not good for BYU.

As the fourth quarter progressed and it became increasingly apparent that BYU
was going to lose, it was interesting to see the hand lettered signs that
appeared, some created in reaction to game events and many unrepeatable. One,
which caught my eye, was on the backside of a sign that someone had been waving
since before kickoff. That side had a message about how BYU fans needed to
follow their leaders, specifically listing the First Presidency and Quorum of
the Twelve who had gone to the U. The back side, written as the game neared an
end, had a message that was obviously cut from a different cloth and an
interesting contradiction of positions.

Did the TV show what happened when fans stormed the field, with about 45 seconds
to go? The grounds crews had to dismantle the goal posts before the fans could
finish tearing them down. It was quite interesting to see the uprights and
cross bars carried off the field, with time still on the clock. I had to wonder
what would have happened, had either team scored in that situation. I guess the
only option would have been to go for two.

The post game on-field melee was deserving of description. Since BYU rushed the
field in a similar manner after the Miami game, I will cut Ute fans slack for
going on the field after an undefeated season. What was inexcusable was how
they behaved, once on the field. There was so much happening that all I could
do was pick a given spot and watch as events unfolded. In my case, I saw one
BYU player fighting -- literally -- to get off the field and into the locker
room, surrounded by 3 Ute students who were pushing him in all directions, every
step of the way. At the time, he was at about the 10 yard line and showing
remarkable restraint, considering that he had a helmet, pads, weighed around 270
and could have easily decked all three combatants, had he desired.

I spoke with another player, who indicated that some players were hit with beer
as they exited the field, since there's no protective canopy for the entrance to
the visiting locker room.

Fortunately, I saw Fui get some genuine congratulations from some Polynesian Ute
fans and something of an "escort" as he made his way off the field so at least
there were some circles of sanity in an otherwise sordid celebration.

By that point, I figured it was time to leave and start digesting the loss, so
off we went. Not much happened thereafter, just some whooping and cheering by
Ute fans, all appropriate and confined to their success, rather than jabs at

To end where I started, everyone should experience a game on the hill, at least
once. It's a beautiful stadium -- albeit incredibly cramped in the concourses
and restrooms. Many who attend are decent and good people. It's a shame that
so many of them have turned a blind eye towards the segment that views the game
through a much different -- and distorted -- prism.

I know that some will consider my comments those of a bitter losing fan but I really am not that upset by the loss. In fact, I had a good idea that we might lose (though not by quite so much) before the game even began. And I have been remarkably calm in the aftermath of such a horrendous melt down. But the actions of the Ute underworld contingent has me worried about the status of this rivalry. My hope is that someone with a cooler head will see what is coming down the pike and make some changes to alleviate the situation. Nothing can be done for those who are hateful because of religious or moral differences, but much can be done to remove those things from the stadium and the television screen. As the title of the blog says, losing and not worrying about the loss is much easier than making it something that is full of vitriol and venom.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I have ranted for two times in a row so I think I should take a little lighter tone in my message today. I can't always be preachy (something my children accuse me of quite often) every time I sit down to write. So I promise that this entry will be much more mellow and interesting than the previous two.

Once a month I try to make a call home to talk to my parents and make sure things are going well. The conversations are not usually very deep (though we often talk about their work in the temple) but it is good to hear from them and see how their lives are going. I try to pay close attention to the attitudes and experiences they have because I realize that it won't be too many years before I will be in the shoes they are now wearing out. Mom is only 15 years older than me and Dad is just a shade less than 20 years my senior. Maybe if I listen well enough, I will be a little better prepared when my children start to send their children on missions and marry them off and such things. Or maybe I will be just like I am now and learn nothing in particular but have a good time on the journey.

Last week (Thursday 13 Nov.) our eldest son, Josh, was playing dodge ball at his work (wouldn't it be nice to have a job like that???) and threw the ball at another fellow when he felt something in his arm (left) move in the wrong direction. He immediately went to the sidelines and sat down and began to experiment with further movement. He found that he could not move the arm in a normal way and also felt some strange 'floating' substance in the upper part of his arm. His work had him go to a clinic where the x-rayed him and found that he had a double fracture of the humerus (stupid spell checker wants me to spell this humorous but I know that isn't right) bone. It was so bad that there was concern whether they would need to do surgery or leave it alone to heal. He was in great pain when I got to the doctor's office and they were pretty slow to help him find some relief, but he eventually was wrapped up (literally) and sent home. He has since seen two other doctors and has been advised to HAVE the surgery so things can be put in place more securely with a plate and screws. My guess is that he will have that surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) and start recovery again at home. Thankfully, since the injury was at work (imagine the conversation with upper management when that report comes in… how did this employee hurt himself….he was playing dodge-ball…on company time…yes, we have the facilities for the employees to play games…but why is it on our workman's comp…because he was at work…no he wasn't , he was playing…but playing is part of our work…since when…since you authorized us to create the gym where they can play…) he is covered by Workman's comp and it won't come out of his insurance. Unfortunately, since it is Workman's comp, they require that he use up all his vacation and sick time before the Workman's takes effect. I think his boss is trying to help by finding things he can do from home. Hope he heals quickly and doesn't get too bummed out sitting around home all the time.

Teresa and I have decided that we will buy ourselves a new big-screen TV for our Christmas this year. I have been looking around for the best bargain and found a really nice one on the internet the other day. I will attach a picture of it at the end of this message. It is HUGE and it really looks like a lot of fun. Josh has one that is just a bit smaller but the picture is really fantastic so I felt like it would be a good deal. Maybe it is silly to buy something this big but we are getting older and it takes a bigger picture to let us see all the detail (at least that the rationale I am using for now). Sure hope we enjoy this.

For the past several months, Teresa and I (with occasional help from the kids) have been digging out the crawl space under our home. Our plan is to make a small room where we can hide a large cache of guns and ammo so we will be protected from the oncoming assault…not really. We are actually going to use the room for some food storage so we can get our spare room back. It is slow and painful work because we have to haul the dirt out in 5-gallon buckets (40-45 lbs./bucket) from the basement to the main floor. Our little truck can only hold about 24 buckets before we start dragging bottom so we have to find somewhere to empty the dirt. Mostly we have been going to the dump where they let us unload for free, but recently the baseball coach has agreed to take some of the dirt to use on his field. This stuff is very heavy clay material and is perfect for working around the pitcher's mound and batter's box. It feels good to be useful to someone when we have expended so much effort. It will also be nice to have a room where we can put away a little more food supplies. That is if we live long enough to enjoy them.

I believe that is enough rambling for one entry. Joel has a swim meet (I still haven't had any success with that video of his meet) so I better get on over to the pool. Long live …..something.

Samsung - 56" 1080p Slim-Depth DLP HDTV

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tolerance and Bigotry

For the past several days I have been watching the responses from the varying sides in the "marriage" debate and have been struck by the attitude and conduct of those who claim to want tolerance for their lifestyle. They claim that those who support marriage as an essential and lasting covenant between a man and a woman only are bigots and are trying to take away the rights of a small, persecuted group. Freedom of choice and civil rights are verses of the song they sing when they accuse us of preventing them from practicing their desires to change a standard that has stood for millennia. As one advocate of change put it, "When do I get to vote on your marriage?" What they don't realize is that the vote was taken thousands of years ago and established as the way things should be for the benefit of all mankind. It is not a debatable topic because the norm has been set by God and cannot be changed.

Actually, I have erred somewhat in that last statement. We can alter many of the laws of God through our own choices… but only at the peril of mankind on this earth. The God we worship (or fail to worship but who, nonetheless, is still God) has given us the right to make choices for ourselves in this life. He has said to Adam and Eve "Thou mayest choose for thyself" and when the choice was made, He accepted that as their desires. Sadly, we often forget the other end of the "choice" stick which is consequence. Every time we exercise our right to agency, we also invoke the consequences that are attached. When we decide to live in harmony with God and His commandments, we receive from Him the joy and blessings that accompany those choices. The inverse is also true: when we live in violation of the laws of God, we reap the misery and sorrow those choices exact (whether we recognize immediately does not eliminate the truth that they are still there). We cannot avoid the results of our choices…they are as much a part of this life as all the other parts that are in God's plan. To put it in a more simple form, I can live as if the sun will not come up in the east and shine its radiant light on our world but that will not change the fact that the sun will come up and warm us every day.

Now, back to my original thought on tolerance and bigotry. While the pro-marriage side has won the election, there is no real joy in the victory. Oh, not because we are not happy that a sacred principle has been protected from the wiles of those who would destroy all that is good (think abortion, living together w/o marriage, pornography, alcohol and drug use, honor, greed, trust in leaders, and so many other forms of wickedness that have become rampant in the world). We are not reveling in the joy of victory because we are busy defending ourselves, our property and our beliefs from those who claim to be tolerant. Protesters have destroyed personal property, defaced sacred edifices and disrupted the lives of people who have nothing to do with the circumstances in California, Arizona, and Florida (BTW, why are those propositions not mentioned like Prop. 8??). While we may support those who seek to keep marriage sacred, we did not vote, nor did we participate in the debate in those states. We may have encouraged those who did to make good choices, but we did not take part in any of the run-up to the election. Yet, we have had demonstrations in Salt Lake City, New York and several other places, calling our people vile and filthy names. And all this from a group preaching that we should be tolerant and let them live like they want.

Let me put this in a more personal form. According to the 'gay-marriage' side, I am a bigot because I choose to defend something that is sacred and holy to me and my posterity. Yet when they want to destroy something that is so vital to the survival of our society, they are only asking for us to be tolerant of desires that rage against the core foundation of all this nation represents. If I protest their desires I am prejudiced and violating their civil rights but when they block me from attending my worship services or call me horrible names they are only practicing their free speech rights. Brothers and sisters, you can't have it both ways. If I am a bigot, they you must join me in that boat and accept the same appellation. Frankly, I do not see my actions as bigotry (and I'm sure you don't see yours that way either) and I will continue to use my right of conscience and the power of choice to defend all that I believe is worthy and sent from God. And I promise never to come to your homes or your places of worship and disrupt your life. Please offer me the same consideration as you exercise your own rights.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Well, It's over for now!!

Election day is over and the votes have been counted, recorded, and winners announced. Barack Obama is our new president and many of the faces in congress have changed from one party to another. What it all means for our nation is still a mystery but I 'm sure we will find that the tenor of rhetoric will change with the new leadership. I will truly miss Pres. Bush and the firm stand he took to keep our country safe. Many have accused him of being out of touch but I believe he has sought the best interests of our country in all the decisions he has made. When he decided something needed to be done, he did it and never worried about what the consequences might be. Someday in the future it will be decided that George W. Bush was one of the better presidents to lead our nation. Oh, he has his faults but he is a man of honor and has done all he can to protect and lead this country in a difficult time. I only hope the new President will be as certain and unwavering in his efforts.

This morning I was reading our local newspaper online and came across an article concerning some happenings in Los Angeles at the site of our Temple. It seems that a large contingent of protesters were gathered to proclaim their dislike for the LDS Church involvement in the recent Proposition 8 efforts ( If you look at the photos that accompany the article, you will notice that the protesters have written graffiti on the gates of the temple saying "bigots" and "liars". Having had some interest in this whole Prop 8 business, I have followed the dialogs of each side and have noticed that most of the rancor and name calling have come from those who are advocating tolerance for views outside the norm of society. Those who believe in the values of marriage between a man and a woman are scorned because we have the audacity to want to keep that sacred union sacred. This is not a political or social issue (as the gay-rights forum would have us believe) but it is an issue of doctrine and belief in the teachings of God. Unlike the civil-rights movement, the gay-activists are not seeking to right a wrong that has been perpetrated by the wickedness and greed of men, but, rather, they are seeking to impose immoral behavior on a people who are seeking to live moral lives.

I was interested to read that there were a group of protesters who stood at the gates of the Temple, waving signs and shouting obscenities at those who were trying to attend. Another case of this also took place at the Oakland Temple a few weeks before the election. In both instances, it was noted that the experience by those who were being mocked reminded them of the vision Lehi had of the 'great and spacious building.' If you recall, the people in the building were seen laughing and shouting in derision at those who were trying to reach the Tree of Life. My guess is that we will see much more of this behavior in the future and we will have to decide how we will respond. Will we opt to try and make peace at all costs with those who believe differently than we do. Or, will we stand firm and 'hold to the rod' as we move closer to the Tree. I, for one, hope that I find myself closer to the Tree than the building when all is said and done.

Enough politics for now!!! Our family is all healthy and happy. Joel just finished the musical for his school. They performed Pirates of Penzance and he had a dual role: a pirate and the Police Sergeant. He was hilarious in both roles and seemed to have quite a good time. I will include a picture or two at the end. I have also added a video of Joel's swimming efforts. This is his first year so he is constantly improving. He is having fun and we enjoy watching him.

That's all for this post. We have grandkids over for a "sleep party" so I need to help get them to bed. See you next time.

(the video didn't work so I will try again later)