In our opinion: Enthusiastic fans

Published: Saturday, Nov. 27 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

Utah's David Reed runs by BYU's Brandon Howard as the University of Utah and BYU play football in Salt Lake City Nov. 22, 2008.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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It is hard to think of November without the regular gridiron match-up between the Utes and the Cougars. Today's game, however, marks the last time these two teams will meet this late in the season. This impending change has heightened the already sky-high attention to this classic in-state rivalry.

We love the spirit of competition that impels players and teams to perform at the peak of their abilities. Healthy competition coupled with sportsmanship is one of the great spurs of accomplishment. Collegiate athletics was founded on the hope that youthful character could be improved as student-athletes disciplined their strength, athleticism and zeal to the ideals of teamwork and fair play.

To this end, we applaud the extraordinary leadership of coaches Kyle Whittingham and Bronco Mendenhall for their emphasis on scholarship, fair play and sportsmanship over the importance of winning. They have helped to make the Utah-BYU rivalry a class act on the field.

We hope that the coaches' and players' focus on character, fair play and sportsmanship will radiate from the field to the fans. The enthusiasm for our favorite team is not diminished when we remember basic manners and decorum in relation to fans and players from the opposing team.

Indeed, the very word enthusiasm comes from the Greek notion of having God within us — of being inspired. Consequently, it would be contrary to genuine enthusiasm to lace any of our behavior in the stands during Saturday's big rivalry with something that would cause us regret in the pews on Sunday.

The BYU-Utah rivalry is a wonderful diversion from daily stresses and cares. It offers us the opportunity for playful speculation and gentle intra-office ribbing. How unfortunate when grown men and women allow their zeal for a game to overpower common decency.

"So fill your lungs and sing it out," or (if you prefer) simply "rise and shout," but however you urge your team to victory, remember that it's just a game.

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