BYU Can and Should Do Better

I was very upset to hear about the incident at the BYU Women’s Volleyball game on Friday evening. In case you haven’t heard about it, in a game against Duke, someone in the student section kept yelling racial slurs at one of the Duke players every time she served. (The N-word.) It apparently progressed to the point that they were also threatening to hurt them after the game. It got to the point that a security officer came to stand next to the Duke bench. After the game, BYU investigated the issue, identified the person who had been yelling the slurs (who turned out to not be a student) and banned them from all future BYU athletic events.

Too little, too late.

I wasn’t at the game, and I haven’t seen any footage of what went on, but I have a very hard time understanding how it got to that point. If someone is in the crowd yelling obscenities, and it’s established enough during the game to have officials post a guard by the bench, how does that happen? Either no serious attempt was made to find the offender, or no one in the crowd around the offender was willing or ready to point out who was doing it.

Perhaps the person yelling was just a monster of a human being. So physically imposing no one wanted to publicly be the one to point him out. I’ve certainly had some run ins with some mouth breathers over the years, and I wouldn’t always be jumping at the gun to get any more involved with them than I had to be. However, it wouldn’t have been difficult to “go to the bathroom” and talk to security out of sight of the offender. I have a hard time understanding how the person managed to continue to be unidentified.

Honestly, what I would have liked to see at BYU is for them to stop the game and not continue until the person was identified and thrown out. If the person couldn’t be identified, then the game could have continued without spectators. BYU should be much more sensitive to this because of the church’s thorny past with racism. Having this come out in the news only serves to have people think, “Yup. That makes sense for BYU.” (Though this isn’t just about the publicity. It’s about doing the right thing, when the right thing seems like such a clear thing to do.)

I’m a longtime, huge fan of BYU sports. And I understand that our players (and our fanbase) are not perfect by any stretch, but at the same time, I’d really like us to be doing better. I expect better, at least within the confines of the game. That means treating the opposite team with respect and kindness. That means playing a clean game and not resorting to dirty tricks. It’s a standard that BYU has fallen short of in the past, and it’s more than a little discouraging to have it happen again, particularly when it ends up involving the fan base, the students, and the administration, and it’s something that from the sound of it was such an obvious thing that had to be addressed immediately.

Saying “we have to do better” sounds like a bunch of empty words when we’re in 2022 and we’re dealing with a situation like that. We should have never gotten anywhere near where this ended up.


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