Opinion: BYU fans — please don’t boo your team
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.
PROVO, Utah — My youngest son had the privilege of attending three BYU football games this year, thanks to a kind and generous friend of his and his family. Aiden’s first game in a college stadium was the BYU v Baylor game this year. He had never experienced that kind of sport-induced joy before. He talked about it for days.
His second game was the Utah State game, still a win, even if the fans weren’t quite as exuberant as they had been a few weeks earlier.
Then, he went last night to see BYU take on East Carolina. His love for the game and the team may have been forever damaged by what happened at the end of the game. I’m not talking about the loss. I’m talking about the fans booing their OWN team.
I told him I remember going to Utah games on a somewhat regular basis back in the early 1990’s. We had some rough seasons in those days, and I sat with raucous fans who let their feelings be known. There was booing, but it was always of either the opposing team or the refs. I cannot remember an example of even the rough and tumble fans around me booing their own team, even during a losing season. Instead, I remember hearing a “We’ll get ’em next time” spirit as downtrodden fans filed out of the stadium.
I taught in the communication department at the University of Utah two different times, the first before my sons were born in the early 2000’s. I had many college athletes in my media law and introduction to mass communication classes, including now Defensive Coordinator Morgan Scalley. (He was a great student, by the way.) I vividly remember the joy these athletes would experience if they won a game, especially the game against BYU, but I also remember the deep despair and self-doubt that would follow a loss, especially to BYU.
From that experience to this day, I always feel happy for the winners of football games, or any athletic competition, but I also feel love and respect for the losers. In fact, I perhaps feel more for the student athletes on the losing side because I know they work incredibly hard, and I know they will sometimes blame themselves for years for letting people down.
Because of this, I needed to talk to my son about how he must never, NEVER, boo his own team. I don’t want him to boo any team, period. This kind of vitriol has no part in sports (except maybe hockey.) BYU fans booing their own team will echo in the ears of those young men not just this morning, but next week, next month, and for some, until the end of their lives. They will not feel confident when they take the field next week. They will not feel supported or loved. They will feel fear of feeling this way again.
I know what it feels like to let your emotions carry you away at a game. I booed the Bulls when the Jazz made it to the finals back in 1998. I booed Michael Jordan’s repeated no-call traveling. I booed Dennis Rodman because, well, he liked it. (I may have done more than booing.) But I regret that behavior now. I am a parent now, and I know that the children are always watching and learning from the adults around them. Booing our own team is teaching them disrespect, cruelty, small-mindedness, short-sightedness, and disloyalty.
That is not what we want to teach. Let’s put booing in the loss column and be winning fans going forward.
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