Sportsmanship dead at BYU?

Writing about the punch after the Boise State-Oregon game, Gene Wojciechowski at ESPN notes, (emphasis added)

Sportsmanship isn’t dead in Football Bowl Subdivision programs, but it’s on a respirator. I covered the Minnesota-Syracuse game Saturday, then watched large chunks of the Charleston Southern-Florida, BYU-Oklahoma and Alabama-Virginia Tech games. On Monday night I watched the Miami-Florida State game. You know how many times I noticed a player helping an opposing player off the ground?


Is good sportsmanship dead in college football? Is it dead at BYU? And if so, what can or should we do about it?

24 comments for “Sportsmanship dead at BYU?

  1. September 9, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    I am not sure, I had to rewatch about five minutes or so of the game to see if he was telling the truth. It was immediately obvious.

    The video evidence seemed to say no. No one picked anyone up, which might have to do with the intensity of the game or something more critical. I did notice that there were fewer pile ups and that most players got up on their own.

    Not sure what this says. I think Blount’s punch was more a situation of an already volatile player getting sucked in to reacting rather than an overall judgment. Personally I do not think players are any less or more sportsmen than before.

    Dirty and nasty has been a common denominator in most sports for a years. Whether some one picks another off the ground I think has little to do with it.

  2. Bob
    September 9, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Most football players I have known, see it as very condescending for an opposing player to offer to pick you up after he/his team has just knocked you down.

  3. Benjamin
    September 9, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Sportsmanship in football does not include picking up the opposing players. It does, however, include things like not sucker-punching the guy from the other team when he’s taunting you. It includes not racking up personal foul penalties for late hits or shoving matches after the play. It includes, perhaps, not punching the running back in the groin when he’s at the bottom of the pile.

    I played football in high school, and my coach was definitely into turning the other cheek. Anyone who displayed poor sportsmanship was immediately pulled from the game for a few plays (at least). However, we were told never to help the other team off the field except in the case of injury. It’s a physical game, and part of that is wearing down the other team’s will to get up off the ground.

    That’s just how football works, and it doesn’t mean that sportsmanship is dead at BYU.

  4. SethP
    September 9, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    I agree with Benjamin. Not helping a player off the ground does not equal poor sportsmanship, it equals gamesmanship. In every play, energy is exerted to knock the other players down and wear them out physically. If knocking someone down were an accidental part of football, then it would be sportsmanlike to help someone up.

  5. queuno
    September 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I think there was one case during the BYU game where Andrew Rich helped someone up.

    But sportsmanship in general is dead at BYU amongst the fans. Just attend any BYU-Utah game and wear red in the BYU section.

  6. Dan
    September 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I agree with Bob and Benjamin. Not picking up an opposing player from the ground is not an example of poor sportsmanship.

  7. CS Eric
    September 9, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    I agree with the other commenters that picking the opposing player up isn’t part of football. What impressed me about the hit that put Bradford out of the game was that the BYU player simply got up and went back to the BYU side of the field. No taunting, no showboating. He acted like he was just doing his job, and went back to business. Contrast that with Monday night’s game, where players on both sides of the field acted like they had done something spectacular when all they did was get a first down. You want to celebrate? Fine. Just do something that warrants a celebration first.

    The other part about the hit that impressed me was that nobody who saw it or commented on it said anything other than that it was a clean hit.

  8. bbell
    September 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    I played Football and am currently a huge fan from HS to NFL. I have never heard that you are supposed to pick up an opposing player after a play.

  9. Lupita
    September 9, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I was actually quite impressed with the comments after the game by BYU’s head coach, etc. Very complimentary of the other team and their efforts. Guess I think of sportsmanship as more verbal than physical.

  10. Bob
    September 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I think the fine line is at taunting, showboating, and a celebration. It’s just too hard for someone who has worked hard, so long, to turn it off.
    #9: The ‘verbal’ on the field that goes unseen, is not for your ears.
    (Let this USC fan say BYU played great game.)

  11. In NJ
    September 9, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    @#5 Yes, because sportsmanship is so alive and exemplar at the U. Perhaps we should remember the golden rule–that goes also for the Utah County bashing. Let he who is without sin . . . ? Oh, I forget the rest. And, by the way, I saw plenty of players helping opponents up during the BYU-Ok game.

    Finally, just as anecdotal evidence, I used to work in live television. This included for ESPN and other major outlets, and the Holiday Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl, and other games. After my recent experiences at the Las Vegas Bowl with BYU as a contender, every co-worker who was on the field for the game commented on how well behaved and not nasty BYU fans were, especially in comparison with other crowds. So, stick that wherever you would like, piqueno.

  12. September 9, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    alcohol usually gives fans a false sense of bravado that I think makes them nuts. Most of the soccer hooliganism in the rest of the world revolves around beer and stupidity.

  13. S.P. Bailey
    September 9, 2009 at 9:13 pm

    “But sportsmanship in general is dead at BYU amongst the fans. Just attend any BYU-Utah game and wear red in the BYU section.”

    This made me chuckle. I have attended a majority of the BYU-Utah games during the past 15 or so years, including several at Rice-Eccles. I fondly remember 4th and 18, Johny Harline all alone in the endzone, Ryan Kanishiro doinking the upright to lose, Brandon Doman engineering a comeback in the snow in LaVell’s last game, Luke Staley running up the sideline on an option pitch for the win (and on and on …)

    In my experience a vast majority of both teams’ fans are respectful, decent people just out to cheer on their team. But there is a difference between the two teams’ worst fans. Bad Cougar fans are merely self-righteous dweebs who talk too much. But the bad Ute fans I have run into were drunk, vile, threatening losers spewing anti-Mormon venom. I’ll take the myopic dorks in blue any day.

  14. September 9, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    This is retarded for someone at ESPN to write. Give me a break. For one it ignores what the strategies of football are (wear out the opposing team). For an other it raises as a requirement of sportsmanship something I (and apparently no one else) ever heard of.

    That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of unsportsmanlike conduct – often unseen. Likewise it isn’t to say BYU players haven’t acted unsportsmanlike. But that makes the argument that much odder. Why not refer to real examples of unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s like criticizing Abu Gharib on the basis that women soliders were treated differently than men soldiers.

  15. hcl
    September 9, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Eh…I watched the Navy/OSU game, and the Middies were helping the Buckeyes up quite a bit.

  16. Mark D.
    September 10, 2009 at 12:51 am

    My experience mirrors S.P. Bailey’s. I was a BYU fan before ever going to a game at the U. and such behavior set that preference in stone. And I graduated from the U of U.

  17. rd
    September 10, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Just two cents from one BYU fan who has attended very many BYU/Utah tilts at both stadiums. And who has many interests on both sides. Both teams have great fans. Both teams have idiot fans. Both idiot fans are embarrassing to both schools. I’ve seen my share of vile, threatening (if not drunk) losers in blue. The more public example (and hopefully the most extreme example for both sides) was that kid that, in a moment of Blount-like poor judgment, jumped the wall in Provo and tackled a U cheerleader only to have the snot beat out of him by said cheerleader. From a fan perspective, the best time is when you are sitting around with your rival, both sides are adequately cheering for their team, sufficiently understanding that it’s just game, full of sarcasm and self-deprecation, and shaking hands at the end. Those are good times. And they are had in most sections of BYU/Utah games I think.

  18. gst
    September 10, 2009 at 10:30 am

    I am an enthusiastic partisan of the local sporting squadron, and I revel in their successes.

  19. TMD
    September 10, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Best thing to encourage sportsmanship? Turn the program into a Div III program.

  20. Adam Greenwood
    September 10, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    By all accounts the OU fans at the game were also pretty classy.

    The one game I went to in Rice-Eccles the Utah fans surrounding me were good folks, very friendly.

  21. manaen
    September 14, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    FWIW, after reading this posting, I watched for BYU players helping Tulane’s players get up last Saturday — saw it happen.
    I also noticed that BYU created *many* opportunities to help Tulane’s players get up.

  22. September 14, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    I notice he’s talking about a game where there were no less than a dozen flags thrown on Oklahoma.

    I also noticed during the Tulane game that our team did, in fact, help other players up from the field.

    The thing I probably notice the most is that BYU gets no respect from ESPN, even when we go undefeated. EXCUSE US for not being Big Ten, I guess–which in my opinion has more to do with geography than talent.

    Is that polite enough?

  23. queuno
    September 14, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    @11 and @13 – I’m sure BYU fans are well-behaved when they are traveling.

    But I’ll stand by my statement (and @17 offers but one example, although I can’t remember if I witnessed his example) — BYU fans are just as terrible as any other fans, especially in Provo. I’ve seen BYU fans in the end zone seats chucking ice and drinks at opposing cheerleaders. A date of mine — wearing red — had a water bottle chucked at her one time at the Marriott Center during a BYU-Utah game.

    Although, those boorish fans are probably outweighed by the fans who bring their toddlers to the game and yell at you to sit down because they can’t see over you. :)

    And if our excuse is ‘well, we’re just like everyone else’, then we should just do away with football at BYU, or become DIII, like the suggestion above.

  24. queuno
    September 14, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    The thing I probably notice the most is that BYU gets no respect from ESPN, even when we go undefeated.

    Can you name one example of *BYU* *not* getting *respect* from *ESPN* in an *undefeated* year?

    BYU has gone undefeated once, 25 years ago, and the voters named them national champions, despite playing their bowl game before Christmas. I would deem this an example of BYU receiving a TREMENDOUS amount of respect from the national media. They were one of ESPN’s top TV coverage darlings until their conference opted not to partner with ESPNU and went their own way with a TV partner with terrible distribution (the mtn). Their game against Pitt in 1984 was ESPN’s first live college football broadcast.

    There are certainly ESPN commentators who don’t like BYU, but to say that BYU got shafted by ESPN in the pre-mtn days is incorrect. As for how ESPN specifically treated them in 1984, I don’t know, we didn’t have cable. (I do know Bryant Gumbel — perhaps their biggest media critic — didn’t work for ESPN in 1984).

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