After a weekend that saw numerous powerhouses get smacked down by teams ranging from the Spiders to the “whointhehell?”, the Gators lived up to expectations and their inflated seeding, pounding the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos to within an inch of their lives before sliding by UCLA and into the Sweet 16 (or the “fourth round” for those unwilling to infringe on new tradition grounded in irrationality.)
Next up: the Brigham Young University Cougars, a team that has captured America’s curiosity in large part to a coldblooded crossover machine that many sports fans simply refer to as “The Jimmer.” For UF fans, the game should hold a lot of meaning as it was this very team that sent the Orange and Blue packing after a heartbreaking double-overtime slugfest one year ago. If there wasn’t enough excitement to kill a schoolyard of children, sportscaster Gus Johnson will be in New Orleans to deliver his aneurysm-inducing play-by-play. Huzzah!
Unfortunately, these things will get lost this week as Internet trolls, barstool intellectuals and overzealous diehards take aim at BYU’s religious tradition and culture in an effort to provide a cheap laugh. Although these rhetorical sucker-punches are nothing new for the university, which is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they have recently become more ferocious and commonplace following the suspension of BYU forward Brandon Davies, who violated of the school’s honor code by having premarital sex. While this development provides a favorable matchup for the Gators’ frontcourt, it also gives the insensitive and the asinine more mud to throw around in their pigpen.
We ask you, the Gator faithful, not to take that head-first dive into the slop.
Although we acknowledge that the school’s requirements may appear as nothing more than theological overkill for the majority of students, it is inappropriate for us to cast a moral judgment on another university’s practices. In regard to the Davies episode, while the concept of losing one’s playing privileges over a bedroom matter between two consenting adults is mind-boggling for most, the fact is that a player broke a team policy, one that he and every BYU player signs before putting on a uniform, and the coach and university decided to handle it their way. For that, we cannot fault them.
In terms of the bigger picture, Thursday’s game is a matchup between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Southeast Region, not between Sodom and Gomorrah and the Promised Land. The game will come down to whether the Gators will be able to contain Noah Hartsock, Jackson Emery and their pesky point guard, not whether they can convert them.
While lighthearted swings at the Mormon faith may not come close to the same dirt-high level of burning scriptures or using a higher power’s name to justify the desecration of the memory of fallen soldiers, it’s still religious bigotry. These are human beings, some of whom you may be cheering alongside with on Thursday (Yes, there are Mormons in The Gator Nation). It’s fine to have qualms with their doctrine, but leave it in the pews come tip-off time.
Otherwise, you can just Fredette about it.