Max Hall and BYU’s Unsportsmanlike Facebook Group


In the past few days I’ve noticed some of my friends joining a Facebook group called “Max Hall said what everyone was thinking.” (I have quite a few friends in this group right now. If you’re one of them I’m about to condemn it in no uncertain terms. I hope this doesn’t upset or offend you as I value your friendship. Maybe this post can open a dialog. Who knows, perhaps you have some rebuttal for my argument that I haven’t thought of yet.)

 

Max Hall is, of course, BYU’s quarterback and the group refers to these comments (taken from the group’s page) that he made after the game last Saturday:

 

I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them — I hate everything about them. I hate their program. I hate their fans. I hate everything. So, it feel good to send those guys home… I think the whole university and their fans and organization is classless… I don’t respect them, and they deserve to lose

 

This article gives more context, but unfortunately it doesn’t mitigate the inflammatory nature of the remarks. Now, before I comment on anything else I should say that Hall made the comments right after a tough game during which there was undoubtedly a lot of adrenaline pumping through his system. I know that that sort of situation can cause people to say things they would otherwise keep to themselves and though I think Hall is an idiot for what he did, I can understand making a mistake. (On the other hand, Hall would no doubt like to go pro but if the emotion of a game prevents him from controlling himself he’s hardly NFL material.)

 

In any case, Hall’s comments were a mistake. He admitted as much and was also officially rebuked for them. What is much more troubling than Hall messing up is the fact that BYU students have created a group to honor and perpetuate his mistake. Though Hall’s comments reflect poorly on him and his school (which is my own alma mater too) the Facebook group endorses negativity and unsportsmanlike conduct. Hall at least had the weak excuse that he was riled up by the game. What excuse do BYU fans sitting at home on their computers have? That they’re ill mannered jerks?

 

The comments on the Facebook group’s page vary. Some mention that the University of Utah’s football team was playing a dirty game. Others mention that U football players have similarly said insulting things about BYU. However, that type of excuse is so flimsy it’s laughable. Both teams played a dirty game and even if the U had worn brass knuckles onto the field BYU students should have taken the high road once the game was over. Do they really hate U fans? Seriously? Isn’t BYU all about service and showing Christ-like love? Even to people who chose to get an education at different universities? Ultimately, this whole thing makes BYU look like it’s filled with mean-spirited bullies.

 

I think it might be useful to imagine this whole episode as an inspirational sports movie in the vein of Rudy or Remember the Titans. On BYU’s side we have a fifth year senior who didn’t even play very well. Maybe the U deserved to lose, but Hall’s performance hardly justified a win. On the other side, the U had an 18 year old freshman as their quarterback. As the announcers on the Mountain West Sports Network said during the game, he didn’t show that he was a freshman during the first half but it was apparent in the second. Nevertheless the Utes held BYU at bay the entire game until Max Hall finally got lucky and threw a complete pass to win. Then, despite the win, the much older Hall went on to ice the cake with an insult.

 

If this were a movie BYU would, without question, be the bad guy. Most sports movies include some brutish, mean antagonist and BYU almost perfectly fits that bill. The only problem is that Hall will never have to face the U again so there won’t be a rematch during which the older, more experienced bully is crushed by the resilient underdog. In other words, the U was Rocky. The U was Rudy. The U was every sports movie hero and BYU ended up playing the part of a stock bad guy.

 

I think this movie analogy is useful because the Facebook group supporting Hall currently has 2065 members at the time I’m writing this. It makes me wonder: does everyone want to come off as a vindictive bastard? Do people like perpetuating the worst parts of a dirty game? Does this group strike any of its members as being somewhat at odds with the values they claim to believe in? I’m not saying that BYU fans (and many of my friends) are bastards or hypocrites, but the Facebook group certainly makes our school appear to be extremely bad sports. And really, that’s not good for anyone.

 

My guess is that most people aren’t thinking very much about this issue. Rivalries are fun and the conflict they allow can be a much-needed outlet for a lot of people. Perhaps BYU supporters who have joined the group simply feel like they’re showing school spirit. However, I hope that BYU students and fans realize that sports rivalries are not worth being a fool over. Going to another school and (passionately) supporting that school’s team doesn’t make someone a bad person. One bad apple shouldn’t be used to generalize the bunch (which BYU must appreciate, in light of Hall’s comments and the unfortunate actions of some BYU fans after the game). This seems obvious, but the existence of a group like this makes it seem like BYU students have lost sight of things that really matter. If the world is actually going to be the campus of BYU students, there isn’t room for hate groups.

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8 Comments

Filed under BYU, Provo

8 responses to “Max Hall and BYU’s Unsportsmanlike Facebook Group

  1. Max Hall. He even has the stock bad guy name, haha. I'm all with you on this, Jim. In this postmodern world, I could also see a movie that follows Max through the end of that game (where he did play horribly) and on through the rest of his life, in which he never realizes that he never rose above the status of a pawn, to be used for entertainment. Or maybe the film could be set in a small provincial Roman amplitheater, and Max (or Maximus, haha) would be a somewhat skilled warrior who dreams of the big time in Rome and whose life is only perpetuated by luck and the fact that he battles in a backwater town. There would be a larger plot in which he is used to entertain, and ultimately killed in arena battle, never realizing how meaningless his life truely was. But then that would be giving him too much credit probably. I don't know. Maybe something to throw around.

  2. It's sad to me that anyone let alone BYU students would support such comments made about Utah let alone ANYONE. I hope that people soon grow up an realize that such bad behavior should not occur let alone be supported. How sad. On my own side note it really bothers me how some people believe that athletics is an excuse to act vicously or rudely. As if cheating, hurting another, swareing etc. are not acceptable in everyday life but accepted and expected on an athletic field. As a big athletic supporter and participant such actions made by Hall and the female soccer athlete from a few weeks ago ruin the game for me. We need better coaches and parents in these days and times to teach what playing sports really is about. It is not to win at all cost.

  3. I hope you don't mind but I cited this blog in my own blog on sportsmanship: http://truetreasuresandfaithfinds.blogspot.com/2009/12/sportsmanship.html

  4. This is an excellent post. I was disappointed with both Max Hall's original comments, and his lame excuse of an apology, in which he basically lied. All he would have had to do was say, "I'm sorry. My words were inexcusable. I was upset, and acted poorly." Sigh. The whole situation was just a bummer. But you're right about the facebook group. There is nothing admirable about supporting childishness, rudeness, and hatred. It's great fun to beat the U. It's not great fun to watch people be vicious about it. Do you mind if I post a link to this post on my facebook page?

  5. Jim, there are times I don't agree with you, but this time I agree with you pretty much on everything. It disturbs me sometimes how much people who, say, wouldn't allow themselves to drink a caffeinated soda would allow themselves to make hateful comments about other human beings.

  6. thanks everyone! link and quote away. I'm honored.

  7. thanks for writing about this and taking a stand Jim, I agree.

  8. Hi Jim, this is Lee! Good post, it got me thinking. I wanted to comment because I'm torn on this issue, and just wanted to present both sides. First let me agree with you and say Max Hall should never have made the comment, and what he said was a foul ball. It was inflammatory and pretty rude. Utah players will have it posted in their locker rooms, and use it as fodder for next year. It doesn't reflect well on him for saying it. Now, to present the other side… Let me start by saying I think this issue is a tad overblown. Let me start with an example.You know how someone who is Mormon does something famously bad, the media usually emphasizes the fact that they are Mormon in the report? Things like, "Mormon man steals candy from baby." Well, I think Max Hall, and by extension BYU fans, suffer from some of this in this case.Why do I say that? Because everyone makes rude comments about their rival. Utah fans and players have made public statements similar to Max's and no one really cared. Where I'm from, players have sent mocking videos to opposing teams and have done much worse.I don't mean to excuse Max's (or anyone else’s) comments by making that point, but I do want to point out that some of it is a human nature flaw that we all suffer from. Who hasn't said, "man, I hate (insert clique here), they are all idiots" or "I hate that guy, he's a total douche" or some similar comment in the heat of a moment? Why would we expect Max Hall, or any other BYU student, to be exempt from this? Which brings me to my final point. It's the whole phenomenon of mocking BYU students for any misstep and scoffing at them anytime they do anything that isn't "squeaky-clean BYU" that bothers me about this issue. BYU students should not be held to some impossible perfect standard. Or at least don't make bad leaps in logic like, “BYU is really tarnished by this” or “Max Hall called Church leaders that graduated from the U classless.” Maybe I'm off base with some of my feelings, but I think that Utah fans who are upset should take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they've never made a rude comment about BYU students. I also think that some BYU fans who are upset about Max Hall's comments are taking this opportunity to pontificate about something. I'm not directing these comments at you, Jim, but I just wanted to let you know that this issue oddly struck a chord with me too (I too usually wouldn't care enough about a sports issue to write about it). Actually it stuck two chords. Because on the one hand, I agree with you, but on the other, I realized that a small part me realized that Max Hall really did say what everyone was thinking!

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