Thursday, March 3, 2011

BYU Men's Basketball...

Ah, good ol' BYU. In the heart of Mormon country, this devout religious university, with it's tradition of upholding it's strict personal conduct code, just laid themselves out like wholesale carpeting for an ass-thumping in the NCAA tournament later this month by suspending their best rebounder for the rest of the year. Brandon Davies, their 6'9" power forward and one of the few brothers on the team, also averaged a little over 11 points a game, no small feat considering their leading scorer, Jimmer Fredette, is a prolific and out-of-control chucker. This nut box has been given the green light to shoot whenever he wants, and his fits of offensive goonery are reminiscent of the runaway train in "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3".

Of Jimmer, I can't really say I'm a fan. The guy is built like a Division-I wrestler, with the neck of a bullfrog and the hops of a wet noodle. He is a graceless buffoon who is painful to watch. His wretched dorkosity may make him a favorite on campus, with his "Ah, Shucks, I just work hard" demeanor masking a totally out-of-control game that is only effective when a coach throws out the playbook to let him go berserk. Yes, trot out all the old and tired stereotypes for this great white hope-he outworks everyone, he's determined to succeed, he's a gym rat-that's all very trite. It doesn't alter reality, the one thing that will keep him out of the NBA-put a long-limbed, athletic defender on him to counter his limited offensive repertoire and his game is over.

Yes, this team has a nice record against top-50 opponents, but that detail in and of itself is misleading. Once you get past the top 15-20, there is a pronounced dropoff in the level of competition. And in the NCAA Tournament, if BYU gets sent East, they'll be exposed for the type of team they are-one dimensional and lacking talent and athleticism. And now more than ever they are severely depleted in the front line because they caught Davies having out-of-wedlock sex with his girlfriend.

The sheer lunacy of this code of conduct in this day and age just illustrates how organized religion is beyond anachronistic. It fails miserably when addressing issues of human sexuality, damning nearly every act as a sin. Why? Because the more guilty you can make some confused 18-22 year-old about his/her sexuality, the faster the pews will fill up with acolytes praying for forgiveness. And what of the mantra of forgiveness? Certainly, if this young man decided to play under such medieval conditions he should be punished, but why suspend him for the rest of the year? Why run a Division-I athletic program and have a zero tolerance policy for something like this?

Well, it doesn't matter. I don't know if this young man will finish getting his degree at BYU, seeing as his name and likeness has already been removed from their website, but I hope he can put this incident in his rear view mirror and keep it moving. And I certainly hope he doesn't feel guilty about what happened, because the worse thing any institution should do is pry into a person's private affairs.

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