I love this time of year. The days are starting to get longer, the weather grows increasingly warm and the beautiful people are finally running outside again. Moreover, we are entering the conference tournament season for college basketball — which means March Madness is just around the corner. Locally, both the Hoyas and Mason are locks to join the big dance and (hopefully) make some noise. But while DC is euphoric, the disciples of Joseph Smith are considerably less so. Let me explain:
This past year, BYU (owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has shocked the sporting world with their dominance. Despite a roster of very few stars (and an unusually high percentage of Caucasians), they’ve won all but two games and were well on their way to a #1 seed. But this past week news came down that star center Brandon Davies has been suspended for the entirety of the season. The coverage of BYU’s actions has been nearly universally positive and goes something like this: “In a sports culture where teams and universities will gladly sell their souls for the chance of athletic excellence, it’s so gosh darn refreshing to see a university really stick to their “morals” and sacrifice their entire season in such a way!”
Well that is, until yesterday, when they found out why he was suspended: for having premarital, consensual sex with another adult! Now for the sake of transparency, I need to let you dear readers know that I have several personal problems with Mormonism* before I move on. Not Mormons mind you, but the actions of the church. Specifically:
- The church was officially a racist organization until 1978. Up until that point blacks were disallowed from attending “temple”, not to mention some of the vile and disgusting pejoratives church “Elders” routinely spouted.
- The Boy Scouts of America is the “official” youth group of LDS. The BSA is an organization I cherish above nearly all others. I was a scout during the Supreme Court case where it was ruled the Boy Scouts could bar homosexuals from admittance. While I agree that is the Boy Scouts choice who they can admit, I am horrified that the scouts still practice this. The Mormons have a massive influence on all scout policies and they were among the most vocal advocates for the ban.
- Glenn Beck. If it wasn’t for the Mormon’s “saving” him, he’d be in some subway station somewhere covered in urine and ranting about a coordinated socialist plot to kill Jesus. Which I guess is to say I wouldn’t have to hear him.
That being said, this may be one of the most ludicrous sports stories I have ever read.
Look. I get that BYU has the right to put whatever they want into their honor code and are also free to enforce it. But it doesn’t mean I can’t be horrified. A 19 year old kid is being nationally crucified for having sex. Imagine how he feels. He is literally being told that he let his team, his school, and all the fans down for doing something that any rational and intelligent person can see is natural and healthy. Moreover, we the fans are being short-changed a very compelling story, and potentially very thrilling basketball, all because of some arcane rule.
Well, at least I hope it’s the only reason
You see, Davies is one of three black athletes on the BYU team. Now, I am not normally the person to jump to race-based claims. I feel that in many instances, knee-jerk racial claims can deflect from the main issues. But there are some aspects of this that simply don’t sit right with me. Not only is Davies one of a few black athletes on the team (which, admittedly is not determinative in and of itself), but the LDS church is still controlled by a majority of people that were very much involved prior to the 1978 desegregation — and these same people also make the decisions regarding BYU policy.
Now, again, I am not claiming that these people hate African Americans and were especially hard on this kid — but take the case of Jim McMahon. The former Chicago Bears quarterback was the poster child of 1980′s excess. The guy did enough cocaine and prostitutes to make Charlie Sheen blush. While this is all a matter of public record, many people are shocked to find that he played quarterback at the same BYU. Now, it’s entirely possible that his shipwreck of a personal life only happened upon leaving BYU, but can you really tell me he never once had sex while at college? I don’t believe that — the university clearly turned a blind eye that they didn’t turn to a far less egregious black athlete some 30 years later.
So because of this idiotic “moral” law, BYU has robbed all of us from seeing excellent basketball, made a normal kid feel isolated and despised, while simultaneously claiming to serve some higher calling. For an organization that has done far too little public repentance for 150 years of racial bigotry, making an example of what seems to be a decent black kid while celebrating a morally bankrupt white athlete seems utterly reprehensible to me. But what do I know about morals?
*See Catholics, not just you guys