Two games and two excuses.
You won’t find them referenced anywhere in the box score, but the mad dash of USC and Oregon, the crown jewels of the Pac-12, speaks volumes about the ignorance and indifference in matters of religious sectarianism.
During BYU’s game at USC last November and again Saturday at Oregon, the Cougars and their fans were peppered with derogatory chanting. The frequency and volume at the Los Angeles Coliseum was so loud it bled on the ESPN broadcast.
There was an encore Saturday at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. I wasn’t there to witness it for myself, but I read social media reports from many fans in attendance and watched their video recordings.
One video in particular shows the student section of the Ducks singing and clapping in unison. Not all Oregon fans participated, but in this particular case no one is seen standing up and telling them to stop either.
It’s not funny and if you think it is, you’re part of the problem.
Not surprisingly, as was the case with the USC incidents, there is no national outrage. Instead, we hear a lot of things like this – “It’s just a name call, get on with it” or “Grow thicker skin” or “If you can’t handle it, don’t go. not in the game” or “It’s just a BYU thing.
But mostly, without openly admitting it, what BYU fans, or history-sensitive members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are hearing are essentially the same things that drove the pioneers across the United States more than 170 years ago. .
It wasn’t OK then, and it’s not OK today.
What’s even more amazing is that it’s coming from the “woke” crowd – the rising generation of young people who pride themselves on being sensitive to everything and everyone. They are the first to panic when someone sees their “personal freedoms” openly scrutinized.
What if those in the USC and Oregon crowd were leading the derogatory chanting against blacks or Muslims? Would ESPN call it “Outside the Lines?” How is it different?
It’s no different and it’s not just an attack on BYU either. It’s an arrogant insult to a specific religion — a religion that’s primarily followed by fans of defending Pac-12 champion University of Utah. The Utes hear it too.
The Pac-12 is a conference that prides itself on forward thinking, personal freedom, and intellectual advancement. They call themselves the ‘Conference of Champions’, and yet, in its two most revered football cathedrals, the preaching is quite the opposite.
USC released this statement after the Nov. 27, 2021, game: “Our student chapter’s offensive chant directed at BYU in last night’s football game does not align with our Trojan values. It was unpleasant and we apologize to the BYU program.
Oregon released this statement following Saturday’s game: “The University apologizes for the despicable chants uttered by some University of Oregon fans during today’s game against the University Brigham Young. There is no room for hatred, prejudice, or bigotry at the University of Oregon. These actions are simply unacceptable.
Oregon student chapter ‘The Pit Crew’ also issued a statement, “To all @BYUfootball fans in attendance at today’s game, we would like to apologize for the actions of the students in attendance. We do not do not tolerate or support any hate speech directed against his religion and are ashamed of those who have participated in it.
BYU is also not free from scandal, including a recent incident that flooded national talk shows. A Duke player has alleged a racial slur was shouted at him by the BYU crowd during a volleyball game at Smith Fieldhouse.
The national outcry on ESPN and other talk shows was, “How could this have happened and, even worse, how could anyone who heard it allow it to continue without doing anything to this subject?”
While acknowledging that there is no place at BYU for such behavior, a school investigation found no evidence to support this claim, not even from the player’s own teammates. . Although the public relations damage was immense, in this very public case the facts did not support the story.
BYU is still awaiting an apology.
However, thousands of people have witnessed religious bigotry and hate incidents at USC and in Oregon, with video to back it up. This should rekindle outrage and set off the talk shows – how could this have happened and, even worse, how could anyone who heard it allow it to continue without doing anything about it?
Ironically, USC and Oregon have church members in their respective fanbases — and on the teams they so passionately support.
Talk about ignorance.
By contrast, BYU recently completed a home-and-away series against Baylor, the 2021 Big 12 champions. Whether in Waco (last year) or Provo (last week), fan stories from both sides of the budding rivalry spoke of sincere respect and appreciation.
There were no derogatory chants when teams played at Baylor last year. Completely the opposite. In fact, the Bears put BYU President Kevin J Worthen in their comeback parade. Last week, Baylor, a Baptist school, received the royal treatment in Provo. The Cougars put Baylor president Linda A. Livingstone on BYUtv during the pre-game show.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark attended the game and noted that the excitement and enthusiasm of the evening was “incredible”. Baylor fans posted photos online of BYU handing out free ice cream in the second half as the Cougars beat their Bears on the field.
Subsequently, neither administration issued an apology. None were needed. It was just a student-athlete football game, sponsored by two different denominations, that was celebrated by a sold-out crowd (63,400) and the largest late-night viewership on ESPN in six years ( 2.4 million).
For years, BYU fans believed that religious bias and bigotry were what kept the Pac-12 from inviting the Cougars to join the conference. I would like to believe that is not the case. But when it comes to BYU’s last two road games in Pac-12 venues, against the league’s most respected programs, there’s plenty of evidence that the Cougars are better off in the Big 12.
While religious bases may vary in the league that will span from Provo to Morgantown, West Virginia, at least they have it and aren’t afraid to proclaim it. The ideology is more closely aligned with how BYU operates. This is where faith is promoted and believers are respected.
Of course, there will be rowdy crowds and hurtful things said during football games, especially when BYU wins (like last year at USC). But the disparaging chant is likely to be preserved for self-identified West Coast elites who can’t seem to stray from their own path.
The next Pac-12 stadium where BYU is expected to play is Rice-Eccles Stadium when they meet Utah on September 7, 2024. Who knows? Until then, the battle could be a conference game — in the Big 12.
Regardless, the rivalry will be fiercer than ever and the chatter will flow freely. Even BYU and Utah have struggled at times to keep “religion” out of the game. I marveled at how the notorious Muss (Utah’s student chapter) often mocks BYU players for living a code of honor – when many of them experience it themselves?
There’s a place for good, creative banter, and college football’s greatest rivalries are decorated with it. But at no time, even with our freedom of expression protected, is it acceptable to so crudely denounce an entire religion, race or creed in a public place.
On top of that, it’s just plain embarrassing to watch.
Regardless of the box score, the Pac-12 is on a losing streak – two games and two excuses – with the two crown jewels, Oregon and USC, in need of some polishing. audience.
Dave McCann is a contributor to Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day”, “The Post Game Show”, “After Further Review” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.