Utah Sports Ruckus: For BYU it's about time to raise political havoc
It seems reasonable to assert that whether Mormons are discriminated against generally in the United States or not, the fact that BYU is being excluded from the top tier of college athletics, when it is so obviously belongs in the top tier based on its merits, is at least in some ways a demonstration of discrimination or inequality — whether by definition or by effect.
Historically, groups that have faced these situations do not find improvement in their status or circumstances by asking nicely or by waiting for those “above” them to extend an invitation.
The athletic program at BYU may seem like a small thing compared to other issues in America. There is an argument to be made that we place far too big of an emphasis on sports in our country as a whole, especially on college sports.
Being an emotionally invested fan of a sports team when we have no control over its successes or failures is irrational in and of itself.
Nevertheless, athletics play a large role in many ways in our society and in the lives of millions of Americans. For better or worse, sports matter in our country.
Sports at BYU are no exception. As I’ve written about previously, a separation of sports and school in America might be a good thing, but it isn’t going to happen.
To the contrary, the connection between sports and school, and the billions of business dollars that bind them together, is only growing stronger.
It’s altogether possible that BYU’s athletic program has only scratched the surface of what it can become in the future. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no stagnant or diminishing organization. No, the Mormons with their emphasis on education, family, missionary service and personal progress are only poised to grow in number and influence in the years to come, with the same being true for their flagship university.
First, however, BYU has to get itself included in the upper class of college sports, where it belongs.
Not only should BYU and its supporters care about this, but anyone that is in favor of equality and reward based on merit should be willing to lend support to the Cougars’ cause.
Based on its merits as an athletic program, by all measures, BYU deserves to be included in the upper division of college sports.
If things don’t change soon, it might be time for the peaceful, conservative institution in Provo, Utah, to raise a little havoc.
Nate Gagon is an opinion columnist featured by the Deseret News, and writes a weekly sports feature called Utah Sports Ruckus. He shoots roughly 94 percent from the free-throw line and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @nategagon.
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