Keep the BYU-University of Utah game in perspective

Published: Friday, Sept. 14 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Howard Gurney cheers as BYU scores as Lonnie Strasburg looks on in the first half as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University play MWC football Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010, in West Jordan, Utah.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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College football is about tradition and pageantry. It is about fair competition and showing pride in one's school and community. Rivalries enhance these feelings. At best, they can inspire enthusiasm and magnify the fun. At worst, they can inspire abusive, destructive and even criminal behavior.

For many local residents, this has been rivalry week along the Wasatch Front — the meeting between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. That means intra-office ribbing and jokes among neighbors. In families with divided loyalties, it can mean good-natured contests to see which school's flag gets planted in the best spot on the lawn. The playfulness is fun and harmless, but there are lines that should not be crossed.

A game should not cause anyone to lose control of his or her emotions or do anything that would cause regrets. It certainly should not lead to criminal activity or vandalism. All have, unfortunately, happened in the past.

In recent years, fans of these teams have had to get used to the rivalry moving from November to September. After next season, they will have to get used to it not existing at all for two years. That hiatus is unfortunate, but it's also a reminder that this is, after all, just a game. Other things in life are much more important. It should not escape notice that coaches and players are, for the most part, able to separate intense competition from any lingering feelings of animosity.

Few rivalries have been as big as this one. There are positive sides to this. It provides for an annual respite from other cares of the day and gives people an opportunity for fun diversions. It would be unfortunate, and it would tarnish the event, if people allowed their zeal for the game to overpower their senses of common decency.

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