Wherein I actually approach the subject of sports

I’ve been asked by countless readers if I’d weigh in on the story of BYU suspending Brandon Davies from the basketball team (which earlier this week was ranked No. 3 in the country) for violating its honor code, one that prohibits consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, premarital sex, and also reaches far into a student’s wardrobe (no tank tops for women) and whether or not men can have facial hair (only if it is medically necessary).

Ahem.

Is this honor code draconian and idiotic and totally unrealistic? Of course it is. But more importantly, is BYU a private institution? This is significant because it takes the previous question, crumples it into a tiny ball, and throws it out the window. BYU has complete control over its enrollment qualifications. And agreeing to adhere to that honor code is DRILLED INTO YOUR SKULL when you apply and get accepted to attend.

I graduated from BYU, so I lived this first hand. I never drank alcohol or smoked cigarettes or had premarital sex the entire four years I attended that school. In fact, whenever I thought I had taken foreplay with a boyfriend too far, I’d feel bad enough about it that I’d go to my bishop and confess my wrongdoing. And it was a wrongdoing according to that honor code I agreed to live by, even though no clothes were ever removed and I never saw a naked body part.

When I heard that Davies had been suspended for violating the honor code, my initial thought was, well, finally they are holding the athletes to the same standards as regular students. Because there were all sorts of rumors and stories in the early nineties about football players getting away with all sorts of unsavory behavior and never even getting a slap on the wrist. Remember: I got put on academic probation, WITH A 3.95 GPA, because I didn’t do my visiting teaching, because I wasn’t living up to the absolute letter of that honor code.

But over the last day or so I’ve been struck by something else… the BYU community is devastated. This year’s basketball team is one of the best in the school’s history, and they had a great chance to do well in the NCAA tournament. While I know that BYU had the right to kick him off the team, and actually agree with the fact that they did so, I can’t imagine what he is personally going through right now.

Yes, he made a mistake. And according to reports, that mistake was getting his girlfriend pregnant. So not only has he let down his school and his community, and most importantly himself, he has a pregnant girlfriend. That’s a whole other hornet’s nest of complications.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that you can argue all day about honor codes and potential championship titles… you can say, well, he deserves it! Don’t go to BYU if you can’t handle the rules! And you can make valid points on every level and side of this issue.

But none of that really matters, at least to me.

Because he’s really just a kid. A sophomore, for crying out loud. And I really hope he has someone in his life right now who can make him feel a little less judged by this giant, jeering audience, someone who can make him feel like life will not always be this horrifying nightmare.

  • Southern Sober Girl Runs

    Free Davies!!! Bball is so much more important…

  • dragonfish
  • kurtbrindley

    OK, you redeemed yourself at the end. I agree, the focus should be on showing compassion for the kids, and by focus I mean leaving them the hell alone so they can figure out how to best manage their new lives now that they are in the debacle they screwed themselves into.

    As far as your condoning the draconian honor code of the school just because it’s a private institution is ridiculous to me. I would be willing to bet that the only reason a good many of the students go to the school is because of the thorough brainwashing they received from their parents and the cult that they grew up in. They simply didn’t know any better: think the children of Westboro Baptist Church or teenage suicide bombers.

    I do believe that private institutions should have freedom, within the confines of the law, to set their own ideology and standards. That doesn’t mean I have to condone them, nor does it give them the right to abuse the freedom they have: think sweat shops or Wall Street.

  • kurtbrindley

    @ lonek8:

    Sometimes facial hair is medically necessary for those who are prone to having ingrown hairs. African Americans are especially prone to this. This makes shaving very painful.

    Service members in the military can grow mustaches but they are not allowed to grow facial hair anywhere else unless they receive permission from a doctor.

  • xclmedia

    Totally the right angle to take on this one. I agree with you one hundred percent – http://xclmedia.com

  • reenielarsen

    You have a good heart. And wonderful insight. I hope he has someone close to him who can help him through this so he can come out the other side okay.

  • Heididawn

    This has nothing to do with this post, i just wanted to thank you Heather for being a force in the life of my friend. She was depressed, found herself suicidal one night and got help – and she specifically mentions dooce.com & your advice as a force that helped her get help. so THANK YOU, THANK YOU so so much. My life wouldnt be the same with out my friend, and i was unaware of where she was at.

    You helped to save her life. Thanks is not enough.

    Heidi