The rivalry between BYU and Utah is one of the strongest, most emotional rivalries in the country. Anyone who disagrees has either never been to a BYU-Utah football game, or refuses to accept that anything outside the BCS is worthy of national consideration. The vehement fervor with which either side defends their team is borderline fanatical on the strong side and at the very least - intelligently opinionated. With eleven of the past thirteen games decided by a touchdown or less, the atmospheric tension present at the game palpably hisses in the background - a fuse smoldering restlessly into a crate of dynamite. Looking into the eyes of BYU and Utah fans alike, you can almost smell the acrid fury of said fuse, and when the crowd erupts with the game winning touchdown, a very sudden and tangible explosion can be felt.
Moments like these are what make a rivalry great. Emotion stands on the brink of rejoicing or mourning, elation or heartbreak. But with such dedication and enthusiasm comes the ugly face of hatred. Some focus too much on how little they like the fans, players, coaches, etc. of the opposing team, nearly to the point of forgetting to cheer for their own. Some dwell too much on the injustices of the past to the point of clouding their mind of all reason and civility in their interaction with "the enemy." Most, I will say, behave well, act reasonably, and promote good sportsmanship. They throw playful banter back and forth, and place bets that often result in mild, prankish humiliation. Sadly, as is so often the case in life, the good side of things saunters by unnoticed, while the ugly side takes the spotlight.
On Saturday night, Max Hall spewed hatred for Utah after the game, creating an instantaneous rivalry firebomb, and eliciting controversy that has stained the airwaves since. His ill-chosen words were spoken in a moment of passion - something we've all done at one time or another - but unlike the rest of us, his words were immediately branded into rivalry lore - fuel for one side, shame for the other. The worst of this news is that it sparks even more hatred among fans. Even those who try to remain reasonable (like me) find themselves having to take sides in a discussion about whether or not Max's comments were justified, over the line, classless, etc. He has since come out with a revision of/apology for his statement which has quelled most of the fire.
I'm not going to go into my position on his comments. That's all in the past now and I've spent entirely too much time facebooking about it anyway. I only hope that in the future, BYU and Utah fans and players alike can think twice before hurling any hateful comments at each other. Enjoy the rivalry for what it is. Be reasonable about it, though. And above everything...
...don't be a hater. :)
Now, let's all relive that incredible moment wherein the crowd exploded on Saturday night. (Ute fans... better luck next year.)