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My LDS bishop is a Huskies fan

By Scott Brown

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Dec. 27 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

Shane Hunter of BYU tackles Chris Polk of Washington during a 2010 contest.

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My LDS bishop is a Washington Huskies fan. If you are a BYU football fan like I am, you can already sense my dilemma with the bowl game approaching.

My bishop and I love sports. It’s a mutual fanaticism we discovered running together a few years ago. Unfortunately, our joint workouts did not last very long. Let’s just say he’s a runner and I’m a jogger … and I use the word “jogger” in the very loosest sense possible.

But a friendship was cemented. We coach our kids in sports. When we see each other, we also catch up on the latest big game or highlight we watched on SportsCenter.

Indeed, very few sports escape our notice. We’ve even watched the Tour de France together.

As it happens, our first love is football. Fortunately, the Huskies and Cougars have not played in several years. This year seemed like another year we could mutually support our greatest passion.

In fact, during most of the season, one of us comforted the other in sorrow. Only three weekends this past football season saw us both smiling on the Sabbath — the last weekend of September (Arizona and Middle Tennessee), the last weekend in October (California and Boise State) and the last weekend in November (Washington State and Nevada). None of those wins came on the same day.

I have come up with seven ways that I am dealing with my bishop/friend and the upcoming Fight Hunger Bowl Friday.

1. I’ve come to terms with the fact that not every Mormon needs to be a BYU fan. My elders quorum president is a Utah fan and wears his Utah tie on the Sunday after his university beats my team. He says he doesn’t follow sports very closely and it’s by pure coincidence that he picks that tie. Sounds suspicious to me, but I’m willing to give him a “really inspired president” pass. Some ward members follow Arizona State sports. That’s to be expected in Arizona. Although they gave in to the (Sun) Devil long ago, they all seem pretty nice.

2. Hypothetically speaking, if BYU loses, I won’t take the loss personally. I grew up in a mixed family myself. My dad went to BYU for a few years and worked there during all of my growing-up years. My mother graduated from the University of Utah. She taught me in the 1980s how to absorb losses graciously. I’ve had lots of opportunities to practice ever since.

3. Neither one of us should be beating our chests too heartily. After all, 8-4 seasons were disappointing to both teams and neither team wanted to end up in this bowl. But I guess it’s better than nothing.

4. Next year I’ll do a better job of protecting my home turf. A few months ago I found it quite cute when I heard my 4-year-old daughter pray for the “Huskies,” something my bishop’s 4-year-old son taught her to do. In hindsight, it’s alarming.

5. We won't have to worry about former BYU quarterback Steve Sarkisian. He took the USC coaching job before having to face the Cougars again after losing to BYU in 2010 as the head coach of the Huskies.

6. The other night I was relieved to see that someone in the ward had decked out the bishop’s car with BYU paraphernalia while he was doing interviews late into the night. I wish I could take credit for that one, but it’s good to know I’m not alone.

7. The best coping mechanism is journal writing. I’ve tracked BYU football in my journal for many years, including the emotions of victories, losses and friends who gloated. Here’s the best perk: no one is allowed to add comments to my journal. With this handy tool, I can face Sunday with a smile, even if the Huskies beat the Cougars.

Scott practices corporate bankruptcy law with Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP in Phoenix.

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