Opinion: Family — it’s why we love football

Oct 15, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: Nov 16, 2022, 1:54 pm
People at the BYU game in Florida dealing with rain....
BYU fans wait in the rain during a weather delay before BYU's season opener against USF on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. (Robert W. Grover)
(Robert W. Grover)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — I was listening last night to Mitch Harper‘s new podcast, “A Century of Cougar Football.” The first two episodes just dropped yesterday. He describes how he came to love BYU football by going to games with his dad. It was a family affair.

I felt the truth of that in my bones. I grew up listening to Penn State games on the radio with my dad, back when Joe Paterno was a god and the sound of the Nittany Lions taking the field was better than Christmas morning. I remember getting sleepy sometimes, lying on the La-Z-boy in the October sunshine coming through the window, and slowly drifting off to the sound of “Penalty will be assessed on the kickoff.”

Crispin Field, photo courtesy of the Berwick Historical Society

Of course, there were high school games, too. We regularly went to the century old Crispin Field in Berwick, Pennsylvania to watch the Berwick Bulldogs play. My mother did not approve of my father taking us because of the spicy language often shouted from the back of the stands. “Just run the ball you %$#&# piece of %$#!” My brother and I thought it was awesome, from freezing our butts off to eating bad hot dogs to the crusty old guys in the back.

In the new podcast, Mitch shares how his love of the game came from his father and how he is passing it down to his children. He also shares fascinating stories of the history of BYU football, from the time that legendary coach Knute Rockne came to BYU from Notre Dame in the 1930’s to encourage the program, to the years between 1928-1936 when Senator Mitt Romney’s uncle, G. Ott Romney, was a coach.

I got to hear commentary from one of my favorite people of all-time, 38 year veteran of the BYU broadcasting booth and former BYU quarterback, Marc Lyons.

In my early years at KSL NewsRadio, we went to every home game. We had a band that played in the parking lot just west of the stadium. We danced and brought people up on stage to play games and win prizes. We stuck around and emceed events during halftime. My highlight of every home game, though, was a hug from Marc Lyons in the pregame broadcast booth.

Mitch Harper shares his father with us in his new podcast. We hear Mitch’s dad reminiscing about some of the greatest games he ever saw in person, including several back in the days of star quarterback, Steve Young. I remember those days and earlier. My first game in Lavell Edwards Stadium was in 1981, the final year of Jim McMahon. As Mitch was commenting about how he would have loved to have been around back in the days of Steve Young (and this is a true story) an email notification popped up on my phone.

What?!?!?!?! Steve Young is emailing me!?!?!?

Then I remembered that I had emailed him, but I didn’t expect him to email me back. There he was, just as I was listening to great stories of his hero days at BYU, emailing me. (I asked him for an interview to jumpstart a new podcast I have an idea for about the book that changed people’s lives.) He was so gracious and so generous, I had to run to the kitchen and read his email to my husband.

Please check out Mitch’s new podcast, A Century of Cougar Football, and if you get the chance to take your kids to a football game this weekend, do it.

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Opinion: Family — it’s why we love football