Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Lesson From The Book Of Mormon: Why BYU QB Max Hall's Postgame Remarks About Utah Were Unwise

On November 28th, 2009, the Brigham Young University Cougars met the University of Utah Utes in a renewal of one of the most hard-fought rivalries in NCAA college football. While the Mountain West Conference championship had already been decided, the honor of the state of Utah was at stake. Fans on either side can be bitterly partisan at times. And the teams were well-matched; BYU needed overtime to prevail over Utah 26-23.

But that partisanship exists amongst the players as well, and emerged in full force after the game. Before sufficient time had passed to allow passions to cool, the media interviewed BYU quarterback Max Hall. And Hall held forth about Utah and its fans...and held nothing back. Here's what he said:

"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. They didn't deserve it. It was our time, and it was our time to win. We deserved it. We played as hard as we could tonight, and it felt really good to send them home and to get them out of here, so it is a game I'll always remember...Do you really want me to go into it? I think the whole university and their fans and organization is classless. They threw beer on my family and stuff last year [2008] and did a whole bunch of nasty things. I don't respect them, and they deserve to lose."

KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

Much of the resentment stems from the 2008 meeting between the two teams at Utah's home field in Salt Lake City. Utah fans allegedly threw beer on and mistreated Hall's family, who was in attendance when Utah spanked BYU 48-24. Nevertheless, Hall's diatribe, even in the heat of battle, has earned him some strong criticism in comments to the Deseret News story and the KSL story. Note that many BYU supporters are criticizing Hall's remarks.

His remarks make it look like he's rubbing salt in the wound. While in this case, the storm will quickly blow over, in extreme cases, this spirit of vengeance can have catastrophic effect. We learn of these catastrophic effects from an account posted in Mormon chapter 3 in the Book of Mormon:

4 And it came to pass that after this tenth year had passed away, making, in the whole, three hundred and sixty years from the coming of Christ, the king of the Lamanites sent an epistle unto me, which gave unto me to know that they were preparing to come again to battle against us.
5 And it came to pass that I did cause my people that they should gather themselves together at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward.
6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands; therefore we did fortify against them with all our force.
7 And it came to pass that in the three hundred and sixty and first year the Lamanites did come down to the city of Desolation to battle against us; and it came to pass that in that year we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.
8 And in the three hundred and sixty and second year they did come down again to battle. And we did beat them again, and did slay a great number of them, and their dead were cast into the sea.
9 And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.
10 And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.
11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.
12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.
13 And thrice have I delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and they have repented not of their sins.
14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.

From that time forward, the Nephites did not prevail, but were swept off, and 230,000 of them exterminated by the Lamanites at the battle of Cumorah.

And what triggered their final demise? It was when the Nephites started trash-talking after one of their victories, swearing by the heavens and the throne of God that they would avenge the blood of their brethren and go up unto the Lamanites. This is the same spirit that possessed Max Hall when he made his remarks about Utah, and the Book of Mormon shows us what it can lead to. While it won't lead to a "battle of extermination" in this case, the Utes will certainly remember it when they face BYU in Salt Lake.

Max Hall should do the right thing and apologize for his remarks. Whether he's LDS or not is irrelevant (he is a member of the Church who completed a full-time mission) - BYU is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the more simple-minded among us will judge the Church by Hall's remarks. If he apologizes quickly, most people will understand that Hall's remarks were primarily triggered by the heat of battle. Update November 29th 9:00 P.M: Max Hall has apologized for his remarks; video and statement available HERE.

No comments: