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August 14, 2010

A Date with Hate

Two years ago Utah State’s basketball team had a 24-1 record, a 19-game winning streak, was ranked number 17 in the nation, and was in the process of completing the school’s greatest basketball season of all time. The one loss, however, left a permanent poop stain on an otherwise beautiful season. Why? Because the lone loss came courtesy of BYU – the Hated BYU. At the end of the year I asked one of USU’s biggest fans, Scott Ficklin (who routinely goes to games seven hours early to ensure front row seats) if he would rather have had the current season’s results (best season ever, but with a loss to BYU) or a mediocre season with a win over BYU. His response: “I would be fine if we lost every game, every year, for the duration of time, so long as we at least beat BYU.”

And that is why I love BYU sports. Because everyone else hates them.

And when I say hate I’m not talking about mere dislike. I mean heart-consuming hatred. The type of hate that is reserved for long stoplights, slow internet and alarm clocks. Of course you don’t have to take my word alone as proof of the hatred. In 1992 Sports Illustrated published an article detailing BYU as the most hated College Football team in all of America. Not Notre Dame, not Ohio State, not Miami – BYU! Among the more comical quotes from the article:

- “There are other teams that generate annoyance ... But when it comes to contempt, BYU has retired the trophy."

- "I just hate them," says Pat Rabold, former Wyoming lineman. "Can't stand them. Nobody can."

- "If Brigham Young University wants to make a major contribution to our hateful society, I plead that it get out of (our football conference)."

Yeah, I can see how people could hate this

And don’t think for a second that the passage of time has dulled the anger. Just last year the Cougars were again ranked among the most hated college football teams, despite having had some pathetic seasons in the last decade.

Now why would I love a team that inspires ire everywhere it goes? It’s simple - I enjoy when my rival fans are possessed with feelings of hatred. I mean, why would I want my enemy fans to be happy? I want them to be upset, irritated, vengeful, stirring at night because of the jerky things my team said or did (thank you Max Hall). Think of it this way:  if your main enemy is your mother-in-law, would you want her to be happy? The Bible might say yes, but you and I both know the answer is no. Thus the more bothered my rival fans are, the happier I am. 

Max is gone, but a new magnet for hatred will take his place

Additionally, being hated is a sign of success. It means your team is relevant, respected and usually victorious. Consider for instance the most hated teams in pro sports. You have the Yankees, the Patriots and the Lakers, three teams who won ten championships in the last decade. Not too shabby a company to keep. 

So with three weeks remaining until the college football season kicks off, let the Cougar hatred carry on. 

It only makes me love them more.


  1. Lost in my ramblings were the actual reasons for why BYU is so hated. Here's a snapshot of the motives behind the hate (whether true or not):

    - Use of church money for football team

    - anti-black sentiments

    - Unfair advantage due to returned missionaries

    - Holier-than-thou, goody goody attitudes

    - Too friendly a head coach (really, that reason was highlighted in the 1992 article)

    - Religious beliefs

    - Ran up the score

    - Overly cocky

  2. You know me all too well, Vogler. You have proved a great point. I love to see my co-workers, for example, hate a team that is so good, so lofty, and so much a part of their despair. They hate the Cougars more than I hate the Utes.

  3. Since I know how much you love the Deseret News I thought I'd include a line from Doug Robinson's latest column which I'm sure you have read.

    "Journalists see how remarkably emotional, irrational and biased fans can be in e-mails and online comments. Hence, the term fan — fanatical. It's impossible for fans to write honestly and clearly about their heroes."

    While it is true that BYU is hated, I wouldn't go so far as to claim success has anything to do with it. You said it, they were hated "despite having had some pathetic seasons in the last decade." So being hated is not a sign of success. Success, though, may be a cause of hatred. Not just successful teams are hated either.

    I, as a fanatical, try not to confuse my hatreds. The Lakers, I hate. BYU football, I don't mind the team. It's fans however... And of course (soapbox side note), I hate all self proclaimed "fans" who state errant, uninformed opinions as fact. (If you want to throw me in here on the subject of BYU football, fine.) Examples: Jazz "fans" who think KOC or Sloan need the ax. BYU "fans" who believe that because Utah State currently loses consistently to BYU in football means they also currently lose in basketball yet refuse to actually research the subject.

    Thank you world of blogging and internet for providing the fuel for sports rivalries. I'm glad I could disprove/prove yours and Robinson's opinions.