Utahns could avoid a lot of wasted energy if they simply told the world about the state's good qualities and let people who have lots of "misperceptions" about the Beehive state just work those things out for themselves.
NFL champion Steve Young, who is the great-great-great grandson of Brigham Young, told a Salt Lake luncheon crowd Wednesday that he used to waste time arming himself against criticism and trying to prove his critics wrong - only to find that they didn't pay much attention anyhow."People would ask, `You're Steve Young - the Mormon?' and I'd say yes. People would stare and say, `You look normal.' I let them deal with their own misperceptions and go on with my life," Young said.
Before he developed this philosophical approach, the same thing happened in sports. Young was typecast in the minds of some as too small for NFL football, unable to take the pressure, unable to throw the ball very far, unable to do many things. Young said he went out of his way to throw the ball farther and try harder to react to the misunderstandings of others, only to discover that critics don't hold a banquet to admit they were wrong.
Things changed dramatically once he began focusing on his own strengths and stopped reacting to what other people were saying. "As soon as I started to let go (of the need to react), I started gaining confidence in myself," he said.
Utah and Salt Lake City should do the same thing to attract tourists and even the Olympics, he advised.
"We know the reality of Salt Lake and Utah - the things, the places, the beauty, the opportunities," he said. Utahns don't have to change their standards, live to please someone else or make any excuses. Instead, the state's assets speak for themselves.
In fact, the thriving business community that is bringing more people here has helped change many misunderstandings. "People definitely see Utah as a cool place to hang out," Young said. "I can't think of a better place to life. This is the place for all people."
Young was the keynote speaker at the Utah Tourism Appreciation Week sponsored by the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Utah Travel Council.
He said he feels protective toward Utah and used to think he didn't want too many other people coming here as a result of the Olympics. But he has changed his views and thinks Salt Lake City would be the perfect spot to bring together a worldwide family. Young said there are a few concerns that must be addressed, but that can be done easily.
Attending the luncheon were Thomas and Kathleen Fare and their nine-year-old son, Tommy, who have never vacationed west of Pittsburgh before. The Fare's daughter, Bridget, who lives here, won an essay contest giving her family a Utah vacation. The biggest applause of the day came when Young tossed an auto-graphed football to Tommy, who caught it handily.