BYU absorbed a dent over the weekend. Not a ding or a scratch, but a dent.
There’s been a lot of work this past decade and even before that to present the school as what it is meant to be, a bastion of faith, Christian values, inclusion, diversity, hope and a beacon of good ideas for imperfect people striving to be better,
Then, during one volleyball match, a nonstudent in the stands at BYU’s Smith Fieldhouse yelled an ugly slur at a Black athlete from Duke University.
That was the dent. All the ensuing media coverage, accompanying headlines and social media reaction was the shock wave.
This incident didn’t tear down all the work done by the school’s administration, community and student body. All the clear-thinking, good-hearted fans in the stands shouldn’t be painted with the same brush as a knucklehead in the stands. But the fallout from such a deal is what we live with in today’s world.
“We have work to do, we need to be better,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said before the next volleyball match at the Smith Fieldhouse, part of a home tournament.
Yes, apparently the work is not finished.
If a person at any event at BYU, be it sports or tiddlywinks, witnesses any such action, why in the name of Cosmo wouldn’t they take immediate action, involve an usher or security guard and quickly address that moment by having the person acting out questioned and escorted out of the arena?
If that slur was loud enough to be heard on the court, it certainly reached the ears of many others. And that’s where the ding comes in. Why didn’t others react to fix it lightning fast?
Holmoe is right — there is work to do.
Such behavior is an embarrassment, not just to BYU or the sponsoring institution, its students, athletes and coaches on the floor, but it should register with just plain old human beings.
The match should have been stopped immediately and not resumed until the offending party was identified and dealt with. Period. That things continued as fun and games is disgusting.
You have to feel for a person like senior associate athletic director Liz Darger, who works with Holmoe. Both have tirelessly worked on fixing issues. But somebody really dropped the ball on this. Likely it is the event staff. There is some serious sensitivity training needed. Like, today.
Darger has spent the past several years working off campus with a myriad of NCAA and college groups like Common Ground, explaining what BYU is all about, learning, listening, responding and speaking. Her mission is to foster understanding and fertilize diversity and inclusion and she played a big role in paving the way for BYU’s inclusion into the Big 12.
This is unacceptable behavior.— #IamJackDamuni 🇫🇯 (@JackDamuni) August 28, 2022
I played & graduated from BYU In 1995. My daughter just committed to @BYUwvolleyball for 2023. As a BYU volleyball fan I’ve never witnessed our fans using racial slurs to our opponents during the games.
This person doesn’t reflect what BYU is about pic.twitter.com/a2GPBGeWDV
Her work is a societal mission of sorts to root out bigotry, especially with the LGBTQ communities at both the local and national level, and to help move BYU forward in the eyes of many critics on and off campus.
All of Darger’s days away from her family, staying in hotels, preparing for meetings, meeting with BYU students and athletes? Well, she can’t help but take the weekend’s events as a slap in the face at all she’s tried to accomplish. And her story is representative of Holmoe and the administration.
This stuff is stupid.
The volleyball event was part of a gearing up for the start of the school’s sports season. This incident kind of stains it, doesn’t it?
Racism is as old as time.
We can toil 24/7 to kill it, but it has a deep root in human nature that is born of ignorance.
My grandmother died before she was 47 years old of appendicitis, a simple and curable malady. But she didn’t receive proper medical attention on the Indian reservation near Lawton, Oklahoma.
Her name was Jane Nun-na-quan-nah Moth ter me, a full-blood Comanche. When the call went out for help, it went unanswered, indeed ignored because she was who she was and lived where she lived. When my grandmother died in 1930, she left six children, including the youngest, my mother, who was just 4 years old. They were all taken in by Bart Williams and his wife, a white foster family with meager means in nearby Walters.
In her story, I see the ugliness of bigotry and racism and the salvation of charity and love.
My mother graduated from BYU with a degree in education while raising six children of her own. While my father worked as the principal at Liahona High in the Tongan Islands, my mother taught English to Tom Sitake, father of Kalani Sitake.
What is the second great commandment? Something about loving others as much as you do yourself?
Do better than this?
Yes, we can.