No Double Standard for BYU Sports

By Todd A. Smith

            I applaud the Brigham Young University (BYU) sports program for its recent suspension of forward Brandon Davies for violating the school’s honor code.

            Davies admitted to having premarital sex with his girlfriend, which violates religious doctrine in the Mormon Church as well as the code of conduct that all students attending the school in Provo, Utah must sign upon entering BYU.

            Although I believe Davies’ violation was minor compared to some of the criminal behavior displayed by modern athletes, BYU sports made a strong moral stand in a time when moral behavior is not seen as a necessity and immorality is accepted and expected of star athletes.

            According to published reports, all students including those involved with BYU sports should live a “chaste and virtuous life.”  All students must abstain from premarital sex, homosexual intimacy, having members of the opposite sex in your dorm room as well as avoiding alcohol, coffee and tea.

            As could be expected, many have ridiculed BYU sports and the school in general for draconian rules, but each student knows what they sign up for when they attend a religious university or military academy.  Students at these institutions are expected to live by that honor code and be an example for all of their peers across the country.

            What has been lost in the recent BYU sports controversy is the valuable two-fold lesson that Davies has endured because of his recent transgression.  While he was punished for his behavior for the remainder of the season, he has received forgiveness from his coach and teammates who have allowed him to accompany the team to games even though he isn’t playing.  Davies will also possibly be able to return to the court next season.

            Coach David Rose told reporters: “Yes, we thought it was a good idea to have him here.  He wanted to come.”

            Furthermore, Davies also had the support of BYU superstar guard Jimmer Fredette who stated, “He’s like a brother to us, and we’ve had a lot of good times together.  He’s been here two years with us, and he’s a huge part of our team.

            “To have him on the sideline feels right.  It feels right to have him there with us enjoying this moment, instead of him not being there.”

            In addition, Davies received a standing ovation from BYU sports fans during the game and was allowed to cut down part of the net that commemorated their 2010-11 Mountain West Conference championship.

            Although criticized for the suspension, the BYU sports incident has taught sports fans nationwide that it is OK to hold star athletes to the same rules and expectations of everyone else.  And if they are not taught this lesson at a young age the problem will only fester and become much worse.

            Lastly, the incident has taught us the true meaning of religion whether one be a Mormon, Christian or Muslim and that is there are consequences for our transgressions but at the end of the day, it is all about love and redemption and one only has to look at the love and acceptance Davies is receiving from BYU sports participants and fans.

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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