Throughout the past year, Deseret News sports reporters fed readers a steady diet of stories about teams’ in-game performances, personnel changes, brightest moments and biggest heartbreaks.
But what readers seemed to love most was information about what happened off the field or court.
Half of the top 10 most read sports stories of 2022 featured events that took place on the sidelines or in the stands. BYU football fans, in particular, were drawn to articles about how opposing fans’ behaved during BYU games — and the public apologies that often followed.
Utah football fans, on the other hand, loved to read about their team’s unusual path to the Pac-12 championship and how USC’s biggest stars reacted to getting crushed.
As we get ready to bid farewell to another exciting year of sports, here’s a look at the stories that performed best among Deseret News readers:
The 10th most read sports story of 2022 featured a heartwarming moment: BYU quarterback Jaren Hall’s gesture of support to a struggling teammate.
After the BYU defense secured a double-overtime win on Sept. 10 against Baylor, Hall sought out kicker Jake Oldroyd on the sidelines. Oldroyd was beating himself up over missed kicks in the fourth quarter and first overtime period.
Images and videos of the pair’s hug were shared all over social media. “Leadership,” tweeted the BYU football account along with a photo of Hall and Oldroyd.
BYU football began 2022 on a sour note after backup quarterback Baylor Romney announced he was leaving the program.
At the time, Romney said he wasn’t sure what the future would hold; he later announced he was done with college football for good and launching his professional career.
Although Deseret’s article on Romney’s decision was posted on Dec. 31, 2021, it racked up pageviews throughout the first month of the new year. It ended up being the ninth most read sports story of 2022.
8. A detailed breakdown of why the 3-team Pac-12 championship game tiebreaker worked out in Utah’s favor
Utah football had a lot to celebrate on the final game day of the 2022 regular season. Not only did the Utes crush Colorado, but they also earned a spot in the Pac-12 championship thanks to the outcome of several other games.
In this year’s eighth most read sports story, reporter Joe Coles offered a detailed breakdown of the Pac-12’s tiebreaker rules and why Utah beat out the two other 7-2 schools to earn the trip to Las Vegas.
Some of the top sports stories of 2022 involve BYU fans getting picked on. But the seventh most read story featured praise of their home game routines.
Published about 12 hours after BYU and Baylor’s double-overtime thriller finally ended, the article highlighted tweets from Baylor supporters who were impressed by the fan experience at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
“Hate the way it ended for my Bears, but what an environment and what great hosts,” tweeted one Baylor fan.
6. What USC coach Lincoln Riley and QB Caleb Williams said after their Pac-12 championship loss to Utah
After Utah’s big win against USC in the Pac-12 championship, Utah fans wanted to know more than how Kyle Whittingham, Cam Rising and other Utes felt about the game.
They also wanted to hear from folks on the USC side about what went wrong, which explains how an article on coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams became the sixth most read sports story of 2022.
“We’re not going to walk around like it’s a funeral. We made a lot of progress to get to this point,” Riley said after the game.
The fifth most read sports story of 2022 spotlighted one of the NFL’s most distinctive stars: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. It recounted his Sept. 2 appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” during which he described receiving a Book of Mormon from his punter.
“He had taken the time and gone through it because he knew how detailed oriented I am and that I would probably look through it,” Rodgers said, noting that the gift came after he teased the punter for dressing like a missionary.
This summer, as NFL teams adjusted their rosters in preparation for the 2022-23 season, reporter Brandon Judd painstakingly tracked how players with Utah ties fared during the various stages of training camp.
Judd’s Utah ties transaction tracker collected pageviews throughout the month of August, making it the fourth most read sports story of the year.
3. Oregon fans’ offensive chant directed at BYU fans’ religion draws rebuke from Utah Gov. Spencer Cox
Oregon may have beaten BYU on the field on Sept. 17, but it lost in the court of public opinion. The school faced intense pushback for a student-led chant targeting members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints heard in Autzen Stadium during the second half of the game.
“Religious bigotry alive and celebrated in Oregon,” tweeted Utah Gov. Spencer Cox about the chant.
Reporter Jay Drew’s breaking news story about the chant and the early backlash was the third most read sports story of 2022.
2. Oregon apologizes for ‘despicable chants’ directed at BYU fans and their religion during Saturday’s game at Autzen Stadium
Drew’s follow-up article on the Oregon chant also made the top 10 list, coming in at No. 2. The story featured an apology from a University of Oregon official.
“The university apologizes for the despicable chants made by some University of Oregon fans at today’s football game with Brigham Young University. There is no place for hate, bias or bigotry at the University of Oregon. These actions are simply unacceptable. We will investigate, and we call on our students and campus community to refuse to accept or tolerate this type of behavior,” said Kris Winter, interim vice president for the Division of Student Life at the University of Oregon, in a statement to the Deseret News.
The most read sports story of the year stemmed from BYU’s final game of the regular season against the Stanford Cardinal and highlighted yet another slight against Latter-day Saints.
During the Stanford band’s halftime show, band members had acted out a same-sex wedding while referencing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ doctrine of eternal marriage. In this article, reporter Ryan McDonald recounted the incident and shared an apology from Stanford’s athletics department.
“The Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) has a long history of lighthearted and satirical halftime performances. Unfortunately, some of the language that was used in Saturday’s halftime show did not reflect Stanford University’s values of religious freedom and diversity, inclusion and belonging. The LSJUMB deeply regrets that this performance caused offense to spectators, and the halftime performance review and approval process is being adjusted to ensure that issues like this do not occur again,” said the statement from Stanford athletics, which was originally published by BYU’s student newspaper, The Daily Universe.