Saturday, March 12, 2011

School Pride...

"There is no bait and switch here. BYU recruits off of the Honor Code. BYU is very serious about it and for good reason. These things are at the very core of the religion." -Steve Young (former BYU & 49'ers quarterback)

The honor code infraction of basketball star Brandon Davies has certainly put BYU in the limelight this month.

After BYU's win over San Diego State the polls ranked BYU third in the nation on a Monday and then on Tuesday, the axe fell when Davies was suspended from the team for honor code violation.

I'm fascinated by the massive press coverage of this story. Opinions are all over the map but I'm impressed that so many sports writers and sports fans are applauding the school. Plenty of them think the honor code is draconian, too restrictive, ridiculous, yadda, yadda, but they still admire BYU's backbone to hold athletes to the same standards as other students.

I'm almost taken aback by all the brouhaha. When I attended BYU (let's see...34 years ago), the honor code wasn't something I gave much thought to because it was pretty much how I lived anyway. I'm not trying to sound high and mighty but it is a code of conduct I believe in and try to live (then and now). Since I attended church, lived the word of wisdom, was chaste, and didn't swear, studying at BYU didn't feel restrictive. My biggest issue/pet peeve was probably wanting to dress more casually (casual not immodest) than the dress standards allowed.

Moral values have changed a lot in the world today but there are still plenty of BYU students who believe in the merits of the honor code standards. As a private university, no one is forced to attend so critics can decry the code as strict or lame (or both) but they can't shame the school for it's commitment to principles. On the other side of the fence are plenty of college athletes getting the "wink, wink, nod, nod" on too many laissez-faire campuses.

So I'm proud of BYU but I do feel bad for Brandon Davies. Nobody deserves to have their mistakes become such public fodder. But this is not BYU's fault. When you are an athlete on a championship team it's hard to avoid the notoriety. Plus, Brandon's teammates, coaches, and the school at large seem anxious to extend their support, encouraging him to work within the system and return to play. No one wants to vilify Brandon. He seems like a good guy!

I admire BYU for upholding the honor code when it is devastating to do so! It's easy to be a proud alumnus of a school that does the right thing especially when the right thing is such a tough loss for the school.