Rooting for BYU

Adam’s post about Rafael Araujo started me thinking about a debate that rages from time to time on BYU sports boards: whether Church members should feel obliged to be BYU sports fans. The reasoning in favor of this proposition goes something like this: BYU is supported by Church funds and managed by the Prophet and other General Authorities of the Church; in furtherance of BYU’s mission, the Board of Trustees and BYU’s President have endorsed an athletic program, partly because it performs a missionary function for the Church; therefore, all Church members should rejoice when BYU fields a successful team. And, of course, the natural corollary: Church members who root against BYU are on the road to apostacy.

Now, I assume that there may be some dissidents in these parts from this line of reasoning, though I can’t think of any coherent counterarguments. ;-)

15 comments for “Rooting for BYU

  1. June 27, 2004 at 11:06 pm

    Your logic is impeccable. I’m on the road to apostasy.

  2. June 27, 2004 at 11:20 pm

    Well, I’m a BYU fan myself, but I can think of one possible counterargument that could be used by U of U fans:

    BYU sports teams serve their missionary function by being on TV, thus garnering publicity for the Church. One of the things that makes teams more attractive to the TV networks is a healthy rivalry. By creating rivalry between the U and the Y, Ute fans are actually helping the Church missionary program. Therefore, they are not on the road to apostacy.


    The Cougar fan in me insists on adding the following, though:

    Of course the Ute fans are not on the road to apostacy. For them, it’s a home game.

  3. obi-wan
    June 28, 2004 at 2:41 am

    Why do Latter-Day Saints have the time to waste rooting for BYU Sports, let alone debating whether or not to do so on BYU sports blogs?

    Is your home teaching done? How about your family history?

    I will forestall the inevitable rejoinder about time spent on *this* blog by pointing out that there is at least some non-zero chance that one might learn something useful here.

  4. Catherine
    June 28, 2004 at 2:42 am

    What if we just don’t care? It’s sports, not doctrine, being promoted.
    Some people (like me) couldn’t care less who wins a little game involving moving a little ball back and forth. BYU wins, cool…but isn’t it sad that the other team doesn’t?

  5. Catherine
    June 28, 2004 at 2:43 am

    What if we just don’t care? It’s sports, not doctrine, being promoted.
    Some people (like me) couldn’t care less who wins a little game involving moving a little ball back and forth. BYU wins, cool…but isn’t it sad that the other team doesn’t?

  6. June 28, 2004 at 8:50 am

    1) Collegiate sports in the U.S. are already and ever-increasingly professionalized.

    2) The ethic of professionalization is incompatible with that fundamental ethic necessary to justify higher education. (If sports are essentially a money-generating, professionalized end in themselves, then there seems no reason for the teams sponsored by various insistutions to have any direct or personal connection to those institutions, the same way soccer players for England do not have to be English, or even have to reside in England.)

    3) To the extent that institutions of higher education continue to attempt to field teams to participate in costly, professionalized sports environments, they are invariably (if unknowingly) undermining their ability to live up to their own necessary collegiate ethic, and therefore are degrading their own ability to fulfill their mission as an institution of higher education.

    4) To root for, and make one’s alumni and general support even unconciously contingent upon, the performance of such teams thereby increases the dependency of the given institution on sponsoring such activities, thereby even further degrading their ability to fulfill their mission.

    (Addendum to 4): the fact that one’s preferred institution may be one of the, perhaps, 2% of all institutions of higher education in the U.S. with either wealthy enough sugar daddies (BYU), huge enough endowments (Notre Dame), or enough luck on the playing field so as to actually generate sufficient advertising revenue to cover all the material costs incident to participation in professionalized sports environments (Michigan), doesn’t get one off the hook; the conflict still exists, even if it isn’t necessarily visible in accounting terms.)

    5) BYU was established by God Almighty to serve a higher education mission for the members of the church; contributing to the degradation of that mission is to reject the designs of God Himself.

    6) Rejecting the designs of God Himself is a sin and a sign of apostasy.

    7) Rooting for BYU sports teams (at least the obviously professionalized ones–football, basketball, etc.) is, therefore, a sin and a sign of apostasy.

  7. Adam Greenwood
    June 28, 2004 at 9:27 am

    “Of course the Ute fans are not on the road to apostasy. For them, it’s a home game.”

    Reads. Blinks. Thinks. Milk comes out nose.

  8. June 28, 2004 at 10:05 am

    Wow, obi-wan, you really brought me up short. For a second there, I thought it was the last day of the month already!

  9. June 28, 2004 at 10:17 am

    Russell, that was awesome, though you lost me somewhere between 4 and 5. I have more sympathy for that view than my original post would betray. Over the course of my life, I have vacillated between the views espoused by my two alma maters, BYU and the University of Chicago, which gave up big-time athletics despite a very successful football program in the early 1900s. At the moment, I am in a phase when I follow BYU, but this could all change in an instant.

    By the way, Eric, that bit about the UofU was really funny.

  10. Adam Greenwood
    June 28, 2004 at 10:35 am

    Note that UChicago gave up football when their very successful program started to decline. Maybe instead of being indifferent, the Grey Fox should root for BYU’s opponents.

  11. June 28, 2004 at 2:32 pm

    Hasn’t BYU’s football program *already* declined?

  12. June 28, 2004 at 2:44 pm

    Folks, I really would appreciate it if we would use paraphrased scriptures to support our positions. To avoid hypocrisy and to follow my own advice, I will simply say that the University of Utah football team exists because there must be an opposition in all things. :)

    Go BYU!

  13. June 28, 2004 at 6:17 pm

    I’ve posted Russell’s argument on my office door. Thanks, Russell.

  14. June 28, 2004 at 6:57 pm

    I served my mission in Tempe, Arizona, home of the ASU Sun Devils. While I was there, the BYU football team came down to play a game. A lot of the members were excited to see BYU, but another group of members were ASU alumni…

    Well, one of the local Bishops, of a ward I was serving in, Made up a bunch of T-shirts for LDS ASU fans, with the slogan “Mormons for Devils”. I always thought that was really funny.

  15. June 28, 2004 at 7:13 pm


    !LOL! That was funny!

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