Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Angry Aggies: Retraction

This is my formal apology to any who participated in the silent protest in a recent Utah State game.

In my previous post I employed no restraint as I criticized Aggie basketball fans.  I went so far as to call them "classless" and their actions "ridiculous."  My words were premature and founded on a single article, cited in the scathing post.  Any who took offense at my article were victims of my failure to further investigate the incident.  I am sorry.

The Salt Lake Tribune article specifically stated that the three minutes of silence came because the students were "angered by a formal letter of apology from USU President Stan Albrecht."  It has been brought to my attention that the silence came about for a different reason.

I was misled by the Tribune.

The Herald Journal was cited on as saying that "Utah State students remained silent during the first three minutes of the game in protest of an usher [who] had told them before the game that cursing and pointing at opposing players was not allowed (emphasis added)."

That changes everything.

What would sports be without trash-talk, yelling, or taunting?  Sports can be an outlet for what can't be done elsewhere.  While tackling someone to the ground accompanied by a triumphant chest-slap is perfectly acceptable in a football game, doing so in a Dick's Market bread aisle would merit some jail time.  Imagine boxing someone out for a position at the drinking fountain.  Without this outlet for both players and fans, the world would be a much crueler and violent place.

As it turns out, it was an usher who prompted the silent protest.  And, admittedly, I probably would have participated.  Although I still think that Aggies went too far with Brandon Davies, I agree that sports would not be the same without passionate fans who do whatever they can to help their teams win.  That's why home-court advantage is so vital.  All courts are the same: 94 x 50 ft, 10 ft high rims, and 15 ft free throw lines.  The key difference is the atmosphere created by the fans.

Aggies, I beg your forgiveness.  Please understand that I was misled by the Salt Lake Tribune.  I should have researched first through ESPN, the source of everything sports.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Angry Aggies


Such a belittling word.  The most famous usage of the adjective in recent Utah history was made in 2009 by BYU Quarterback Max Hall.  After squeezing out a 26-23 victory in the once hostile rivalry, Hall rattled, "I don't like Utah.  In fact, I hate them.  I hate everything about them...I think the whole university, their fans and their organization, is classless (emphasis added)."

Although Hall issued an apology note, those lines will never be forgotten by Cougs and Utes.  What a pity it is that Hall decided to end his (somewhat) successful college career on such a negative note.  As a Ute alumnus myself, I initially was angered by Hall's words.  Over time I have chosen to believe that Max was "in the heat of the moment" and extremely exaggerated his emotions.  He knew nothing about the University outside the realm of football.  That's what I choose to believe.

However, classless is the one word that came to mind when I heard this story on the news last night:

"Angered by a formal letter of apology from USU President Stan Albrecht to BYU for the students' treatment of Brandon Davies during a season-opening win over the Cougars, the Aggie students sat and watched in retaliation.  They started cheering as usual at the 17-minute mark of the first half, but even then the atmosphere was quiet, lackluster and not anywhere close to its usual noise level."
(You can read the rest of the article here.)

That is a classless act.

I understand freedom of speech and the right to express your opinion.  I understand (and am even guilty of) taunting opposing players.  However, there is definitely a point past which the taunts are too personal, too degrading, and downright too much.

My dad once told me about a college basketball game in which the students were holding up posters that read, "Are you making daddy proud?" and the like.  The posters were directed at an opposing player whose father had passed away the previous week.  That is going too far.

Yes, Brandon Davies broke the honor code.  True, he was suspended from BYU.  We don't know all the details, nor do we need to know the details.  What we do know is that Davies faced this ugly situation like a man and is back on the court.

Utah State Aggies apparently don't care.

Students made posters with humiliating phrases (that I dare not repeat to keep this blog family-friendly), chanted, and yelled things at Davies all night.  The Aggies came away with a win over the in-state rival, even if it was in poor fashion.

I'm not referring to the posters nor the chants.  Those are to be expected, even though I like to think that I wouldn't participate in something so petty.  I'm sure Davies goes into every Away game expecting the shallow signs and chants, but remember that it was Davies who overcame humiliation and fought to become eligible again.

What really bothered me was this retaliation effort in the game immediately following the university-issued apology to BYU.  The usually loud and riotous crowd sat silently for a whopping three minutes to prove...what exactly?  To prove how childish college students can be?  To prove that they really meant every demeaning word they directed toward Davies, as if he had personally offended them?  I struggle to find the purpose in this little protest they pursued.

Like with Max Hall, I'll choose to believe that the ridicule towards Davies was carried out "in the heat of the moment."  Utah State students are passionate about basketball, the only athletic program that puts several W's on their schedule each year.  But the in-game protest was too much for me to accept as "ok."

To put it kindly, I am disappointed with the Utah State students who organized and participated in the three minutes of silence.

If I were to be mean about it, I would tell the student body (at least those at the game) to get over themselves.  Your president did the right thing by issuing an apology.  Your temper tantrum was a little ridiculous.

Again, that's what I would say if I were a mean person.