March Madness

Earlier tonight the NCAA announced the men’s basketball tournament bracket, and BYU barely made the field for the second year in a row. Also for the second year in a row, BYU will be playing the defending national champion, though most “experts” give BYU a better chance this year against Syracuse than they had last year against Connecticut (which was a fairly close game, by the way). Some of my best memories from my time at BYU are connected to sports, but I will confess to being surprised when Merrill Bateman, then President of BYU and member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, placed such a heavy emphasis on BYU sports. This excerpt from an article written by Greg Call’s brother portray’s Bateman’s attitude toward BYU sports: “Cougar sports play a vital role in furthering the mission of both the school and its sponsoring institution, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Bateman said it’s essential that BYU be known both nationally and internationally. ‘Athletics,’ he said, ‘is an important part of that process.'” So, since rooting for BYU’s basketball team is akin to rooting for the missionaries, I assume we are all boosters now?

20 comments for “March Madness

  1. Qualified yes.

    Personally, I have a rather intense hate/dislike for team sports. However…the ‘famous’ Mormon sports stars have and currently do alot of good missionary work. I’m not sure I would ever want any $ I donated to BYU to go towards athletics however.

    I’m also encouraged by the ongoing investigation of the 5 members of BYU’s football team who decided not only to break the law of chastity; which they may personally not believe in, but also the Honor Code and worse…the law. Talk about a black eye…esp. post the CU debacle.

    I wonder if Elder Bateman is ‘eating’ his compete higher level/mntn standards vs. wasting 50 MILLION DOLLARS (that could otherwise have been donated towards the general Scholarship fund, endowed chairs, the PEF, etc).

  2. Lyle,
    I didn’t know that the HC violators broke the law. Does Utah still have a law against fornication?

  3. BYU sports can get into homes missionaries (or general scholarship funds, endowed chairs, PEF, etc) cannot. When they play Notre Dame on NBC on Saturday afternoon and the announcers spend several minutes throughout the game talking about mormon missionaries it makes 50 million dollars well worth the investment. It’s money towards missionary work, and a very important way for the church to get recognition where it’s not so well known. Nonetheless, the practice facility apreciates your begrudging tithing dollars anyway. Also, the only one who broke the law it appears, was the girl who lied to get herself out of trouble with the HC.

  4. Alright all you liberal types…’out’ of the closet with ye! Where are the strident defenders of women’s virtue . . . pointing out that women often change their story from ‘rape’ to ‘consent’ due to social/peer pressure; that it is the fornicating sister who is going to be shamed while many will feel bad for the poor poor Fball players whose sterling reputations were stained by her “lies,”; etc.???!!!

    For todays updated BYU news story:

    Adam: Happily, all is not lost…yet, in Zion.

    Utah Code:

    76-7-104. Fornication.

    (1) Any unmarried person who shall voluntarily engage in sexual intercourse with another is guilty of fornication.
    (2) Fornication is a class B misdemeanor.

    Paul: Good point. Perhaps the religion department/sociology dept. can do a joint study about how active “sports” converts to the Church remain after baptism? ;) this is just a joke…any conversion not based on the Spirit doesn’t fly…and if Sports brings the Spirit…more non-begrudged tithing dollars to it.

  5. Oh yeah — it sure is happy that even though it would be completely impractical and pointless to prosecute all the fornicators in Utah, at least we can point to them accusingly and add “law-breaker” to our list of insults to hurl at them.

  6. Um, sorry for the sarcasm. I realize that you can’t put the milk back in the cow, but I thought better of making that last post about two seconds after I hit the “post” button.

  7. So if the Lord is rooting for BYU in the tourney why does Utah State get the cold shoulder? Poor Aggies…they need some love too.

    Go Cougars!

  8. Paul and Lyle,

    About that tithing debate: “Though a part of the LDS Church, BYU sports does not receive any tithing funds.” The practice facility was built entirely through donations other than tithing. Frankly, I doubt that money was redirected from scholarships or endowed chairs.

    Paul, the young woman told two stories — one involving rape and the other involving consensual group sex. How do you know which was the truth? She is not a very credible witness, to be sure, but I don’t assume that the most recent in time is necessarily the truth. Remember that the mother of a current player reported it to the coaches; she was scared for her son, who had been threatened by one of the participants. Very ugly.

    Lyle, As you undoubtedly know, many students BYU violate the honor code. Most incidents are never publicized. Those that are publicized often involve prominent athletes, which in my view unfairly links the sports programs to honor code violations. The sports programs also have their share of successes, which get a lot less publicity. For a recent and inspiring story, read about Curtis Brown’s baptism through the eyes of his non-member mother:

  9. Gordon: Thanks for the tithing info & the link…I thought that was true; but…didn’t know for sure. Regardless, my original comments re: how the $ could be used for other purposes remains true. Their is only so large an economic pie that “wealthy MOs” have to distribute.

    Logan: Good point re: impractical to prosecute fornicators.

    Yet…I wonder if it would be impractical if: (1) Prosecutors would have been more consistent early on…say since…forever, and prosecuted all law-breakers; regardless of their secret combo/wealth/family connections; and/or (2) we were willing to allocate sufficient resources to enforce the law…rather than just let it be a bully pullpit for “bought” politicians to point to as why they should be re-elected.

    Alternatively: Perhaps we should abolish all laws that we can’t enforce?

    p.s. I’m not hurling insults/thanx for inspiring me to be better re: sarcasm also. i struggle there too ;)

  10. A lot of those studies about the number of women raped in college are exaggerated for political purposes. For example, one famous study (and I can’t remember which it was just now) differentiated women who had sex and then regretted it with the women who had been raped in its questionaire. But then, in the public report, both situations were included in the tally of women who had been raped, which of course grossly inflated the reported number of women who had been raped (I think it was 40%).

  11. Gordon,

    After reading everything I could get my hands on, I thought it was pretty obvious she was not raped. Police said she couldn’t remember who the person was who drove her to the party, or what he looked like. Nor could she remember who was in the “group” or what anyone looked like. Also, because she lived out of state, police were flying to take her statements. That’s a huge waste of the tax payers money if she was lying.


    Aggies will get no love as long as the wear shirts that say “F— the mormons” or as long as they throw beer bottles at BYU fans while we’re walking to our cars. Utah State did get hosed, but I’m glad :)

  12. Gordon,

    If BYU had won last year (or even gotten past CT), their name would have been cursed by sports fans everywhere, as they would have ruined everyone’s brackets.

    (Remember, the Sunday-game switching thing).

  13. I should be clear — it’s not that they would have ruined brackets because they weren’t expected to win. Rather, had they beaten Connecticut, the entire bracket would have had to be shifted to prevent them from playing a Sunday game. This would have rendered most people’s brackets unplayable.

  14. What is the evidence, other than “common sense,” that BYU sports helps out the Church’s missionary work? And if there is such evidence, why did President Hinckley shut down the inter-collegiate sports programs at BYU Idaho rather than build them up?

  15. Jim,
    I think that’s good evidence right there. He may have shut it down because it wasn’t fulfilling any of the missions of the church effectively enough. The sports program was never on national tv or anywhere close to BYU-Provo.

  16. Where’s the love for the Runnin’ Utes? They did win the Mountain West championship this year.

  17. This is not a T&S exclusive (sorry), but considering the tenor of the comments posted here, I thought that I’d recycle my response to the announcement that BYU was ‘calling’ couples to be ‘sports missionaries.’ See this Deseret News article:,1249,515034779,00.html

    I won’t divulge my source so don’t even ask, but I have pasted below a section from the sports missionary handbook that was leaked to me by an senior BYU offical.


    The great thing about being a sports missionary is that you’ll always have something to help break the ice and talk about with your contacts –I mean, other than the weather, what’s a better conversation starter than sports? It’s always good to build relationships based on common connections. If you keep throwing out names, I’m sure that you’ll find a former or current Cougar athlete that both you and your prospective booster either know or know someone who knows him or her. The more direct the connection the better, but even if it’s just the fact that Ty Detmer was in your contact’s cousin’s ward, any connection will help build a relationship of trust.


    It’s important that once you get into your discussions of Y sports that you focus on the high points of the past and not just the current status of our teams so that your prospective boosters really feel full of Cougar spirit. That way it doesn’t matter if BYU has just lost to Air Force by 48 points. Make sure to work the 84 national championship, Lavell Edwards, Danny Ainge, and Steve Young into the discussion. Our research shows that these are the topics that are most likely to bring the Cougar spirit into the hearts and minds of prospective boosters. You might want to steer conversations away from Jim McMahon and Ronney Jenkins. Please also note that for the purposes of our mission Mark Madsen doesn’t count. Once you feel the presence of the Cougar spirit, you should make sure that your contact recognizes it. This can be accomplished by asking things like “Aren’t you totally psyched for basketball season?” or “Don’t the new football uniforms totally rock?” Obviously prospective boosters who answer in the affirmative are ready for the next step. If you receive a lukewarm response then you should try and different tactic and discuss how much certain GA’s love Cougars sports or tell Truman Madsen’s story about Joseph Smith and stick wrestling.


    Once your prospective booster is feeling the spirit of Cougar athletics, it’s time to ask him or her (and don’t discount women — our research shows that while they may not be priesthood holders, they are often our most rabid supporters) to commit to a specific action. Start with asking them to join the boosters club and sign up for a Cougars rewards credit card. If they readily agree to those commitments, move on to higher order commitments such as estate planning, volunteer work, presidents circle giving, and the rights to their firstborn son should he grow to be of offensive or defensive line stature (we’ve given up on recruiting Mormon running backs outside of our Tongan/Samoan wards). If they don’t agree to lower-level commitments, resolve any concerns, and at least see if they’d be willing to join our “Cougar friends” club at either the $50 or $100 level.

    Finally, don’t forget to bring up our many ‘naming’ opportunities! Not everyone is a Marriot, but you’d be surprised at how many rich alums can get all excited by having a display case or therapeutic whirlpool named after them.

    If all else fails, at least place prospective boosters with a catalog of BYU athletics merchandise. You never know if you’ll be planting a seed that later sports missionaries will harvest.

  18. [Restoring Comments Inadvertently Lost in the WP transfer] :

    Oh, yeah, and…
    Go Bears!
    [That would be the California Golden Bears for you Utah-centric folks].
    Comment by: William Morris at March 17, 2004 08:10 PM


    Umm, this is a satire, right? (Crosses fingers). :)
    Comment by: Kaimi at March 17, 2004 08:13 PM


    Kaimi, if that isn’t a satire, I hereby resolve never to watch any BYU sports again … unless me children are participating. But as a satire, that is pretty funny!
    Comment by: Gordon Smith at March 17, 2004

  19. Loan Information,
    You always leave the most intuitive comments.

    Did you ever attend the Wilkes-Barre PA ward?

    Wait, nevermind, that was french investment loans.

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