There’s only one word I can think of to describe the Marriot Center in Provo during Saturday’s game: Electrifying.
There is something different about watching sporting events in person, and that feeling is intensified when the sport is BYU Men’s basketball. Add to that the game following a gut-wrenching loss to, yet again, New Mexico, and the stage was set for some incredible ball playing.
I “oohed” along with the crowd at Jimmer Fredette’s unstoppable drives to the basket and impossible outside shots. I “ahed” as Jackson Emery sped down the court after another turnover. My heart leapt when Charles Abouo sunk a sweet dunk to put BYU at 100 points. But it was a moment after the game I will never forget.
In light of recent news surrounding Brandon Davies, I was pleasantly surprised to see him sitting on the court sideline with the team. Dressed in a suit and tie, he assumed the role of a supporter. After the game, all the pomp that accompanies winning a conference championship ensued — including confetti cannons, my personal favorite, although janitors may have a different opinion — and as a died in the wool BYU fan, I stayed to celebrate and increase my chances for losing my voice.
I couldn’t help but think I’d held up the same trophy only one week before at the Indoor Track and Field conference championships. Although we didn’t have confetti canons, I’m so privileged to have helped earn a few Mountain West Conference titles while at BYU. I feel a connection with other BYU athletes when we win the MWC.
The closest experience I had to the celebration going on at Saturday’s game was when the cross country championships were in Provo in 2009. The course was lined with people cheering and even Cosmo showed up in BYU’s running uniform. I never thought I’d see so much cougar leg. As I pulled into the finish at that race, I even saw a “Lemmon-Lew for President,” sign. It doesn’t beat “What would Jimmer do?” but it sure comes close in my book.
After a few speeches from coaches and seniors, the men’s basketball team started to individually ascend a ladder and cut a piece of the basketball net down, a token of the day’s resounding victory. Their names were announced and I cheered accordingly.
The moment Davies took the scissors and stepped on the ladder, the room erupted with volcanic force. I could only feel I was yelling because the sound was completely drowned out. Then all I could do was clap my already swollen red hands together because I could sense the beginnings of tears in my eyes. I was surprised at the emotion I felt, but there it was, threatening to spill down my cheeks while I watched Davies cut his piece of the net.
I suppose it is because of that connection between athletes, the hours spent training and traveling, the homework we struggle to do on a plane or in a hotel room while fighting off nerves and pressure, the absolute commitment and determination to excel at something we love. To do it all in BYU’s name is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl.
Unfortunately, the mistakes we make are in BYU’s name too.
We talk about Karl G. Maesar's definition of honor with a story about staying within a chalk circle when we give our word to do so. That is fine and well, but what about when the line is crossed? How easy is it to step back in the cirlce and pretend we never left?
Davies' actions after his mistakes are an example of real courage and integrity to me, values BYU applauds and requires. That is why I was glad to see him at the game. That is why the whole Marriot Center let him know they felt the same.
While the rest of the time we debate about beards and hemlines, I am grateful to attend and represent a school with an honor code it truly enforces and with students who know how to forgive.
Cecily Lew is a senior at Brigham Young University and is a two-time All American in cross-country and track.