Amy Donaldson: Hall's pain a reflection of self-betrayal

Published: Monday, Nov. 30 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

BYU quarterback Max Hall set off a firestorm of criticism and discussion when, after winning a football game, he called the entire University of Utah "classless."

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret."

— Ambrose Bierce

Somebody did Max Hall wrong.

He says it was the University of Utah. He also said it was the BYU fans who doubted and criticized him.

"I don't like Utah," said Hall after he threw the game-winning pass to Andrew George in BYU's 26-23 win against Utah in overtime Saturday. "I hate their program. I hate their fans. I hate everything."

He hates everything?

I don't know Max Hall, but I hope that is not true. Unfortunately, that is the treachery of anger and hate. You can't isolate those toxic emotions. Eventually, more quickly than you realize, they contaminate everything around them — including your own heart.

"Consider how much more you often suffer from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you are angry and grieved."

— Mark Antony

For more than year, he apparently swallowed bad feelings about an incident involving his family. He said Ute fans threw beer on them during last year's game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was, indeed, a disgusting act that apparently ate him up inside.

And then there were the critics.

Apparently he listened to what they had to say about him — his inconsistency; his inability to win big games — and he hated them for it.

Life isn't fair. People do bad things and they get away with it. If these are your adversities, Mr. Hall, fall to you knees in gratitude.

"Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

— Buddha

It happens a lot in sports. Talk of revenge, pronouncements of redemption. Winning, it seems, makes everything right. The end, too often, justifies the means.

Saturday night, after being carried on the shoulders of teammates and fans, Max Hall proved that is an illusion.

Winning doesn't change the past. It doesn't erase anything. It doesn't make you a better human being.

He got his revenge. He beat the "classless" Utes and disappointed their "classless" fans.

The win won't change what his critics believe. It won't change the unpleasant experience his family had last year. It certainly will not engender thoughtfulness in those prone to call names and throw beverages.

What winning can do is show the benefits of hard work, discipline and teamwork. It can take you in a new direction and it can offer you hope and joy.

Max had a moment to praise his teammates, to thank his coaches, his family and those fans who believed in him, even when statistical evidence didn't support him.

Instead, he used his moment to belittle players who are, in reality, not that different from him.

"He who loses control, loses."

— Det. Frank Pembleton, Homicide: Life on the Street

Max Hall won.

It wasn't the perfect game for either team, but it was important for them in many ways. And he was blessed with a win.

Seeing him throw that pass, watching Andrew George hold up that ball in the end zone was a moment of triumph. It was pure joy. They earned one of those historic wins in fairytale fashion.

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