i’m not sure how many of you keep up with ncaa men’s basketball, but there’s a good chance you may have heard something about a byu player, brandon davies, being suspended from the basketball team this past week due to a violation of byu’s honor code. the story has been all over the news–local, national, and international–mostly due to byu’s no. 3 ranking, as well as the fact that the team is built around the nation’s leading scorer, jimmer fredette. but since the story broke this last tuesday, a lot of other elements of the suspension have come into play, and pretty much all of them are being completely twisted by the media, by bloggers, and even by people within the lds community who should, in my opinion, just know better.
there are a few things that i’m really irritated about, and i’m not trying to change anyone’s mind here or place blame anywhere, i mostly just needed to express my annoyance with the ignorance of people in general. if you don’t mind, i’ll just go down the list of what’s getting on my nerves when i read a news item or hear people talking about the incident.
first: many who know nothing of byu other than its sports programs seem to feel totally comfortable offering their two cents about why they think byu is a soul-sucking, cult-driven institution whose main goal is to brainwash its students and hold back its athletes. these people seem to think that the honor code office somehow relishes the act of preventing young men and women from fulfilling their goals and being as successful as they can possibly be. when i read these types of comments on news stories or blog posts, it’s all i can do to stop myself from being a total troll and unleashing the full fury of my very colorful vocabulary on these morons.
byu students violate the honor code every day, of this i’m sure. but no one knows about it. why? because it’s most often handled in private, with only the student and his or her religious leader involved. in other words, most people seek help BEFORE they are caught doing something wrong, which is unfortunately often not the case with athletes, who for whatever reason may choose to believe they will never be caught. some say that these athletes think they are above the law, or that they have too much to lose if they were to come forward with an admission of wrongdoing; whatever the case may be, if any byu student chooses to wait until the honor code office gets involved, chances are the disciplinary action taken will be more severe than if they had been working through the issue with their bishop or other religious leader.
i understand that a lot of people think that the school’s honor code is too strict. that’s fine, think that if you’d like. the level of its strictness is really a non-issue in this case. every student, including brandon davies, knows what they are committing to when they enter byu. signing the honor code is a part of the application process, so it’s not as though it’s a big secret. as far as i could see from what’s being covered in the media, brandon davies has been nothing but gracious and humble in accepting whatever action may be taken by the school, and i’m sure a big part of that is that he knew what the risks of his behavior were. he made a choice, and now he’s facing the consequences. i don’t see how any of that could possible construed as unfair or unnecessary. if anything, it’s a model for what SHOULD be happening in the real world.
second: other people have played the whole race card, saying that only minority students who violate the honor code are exposed to the media. this type of talk disgusts me more than anything else, i think. brandon davies came forward about his indiscretion during one of the biggest weeks of the basketball season, when his team was in contention to be part of the final 4, and he’s one of the team’s star players. it’s not like byu called the paper and said, “hey, we’ve got a student here who’s getting kicked off the basketball team–would you like an exclusive?” no. from what i understand, someone in davies’ circle tipped off a news outlet about the whole thing, and the circumstances propelled the story to the top of the news. it was an issue of timing, not race.
and in any case, it sickens me that members of the lds church would even suggest that this has anything to do with the color of davies’ skin. no one can know what really happened unless brandon were to say it himself. same goes for other athletes (or any byu student) who are disciplined by the honor code office. i’ve heard several people drop hints about other athletes who may be breaking the honor code and are not being punished, and i think that’s incredibly disappointing. for one thing, we don’t know for sure what anyone is doing behind closed doors, and for another thing, we don’t know how those people are handling their specific situations. it’s completely destructive, irresponsible, and ignorant to even attempt to compare the situation of brandon davies with anyone else’s. each case is different, and therefore requires different treatment. it’s very unfortunate that brandon is being scrutinized in this manner, but the truth of the matter is that he’s a high-profile athlete in the midst of the best season in school history. however, it’s unfair to insinuate that the byu administration wanted anything to do with this media circus. that happened all on its own.
third: i’ve seen many, many comments bashing byu for its stance on premarital sex, which is allegedly what davies is being disciplined for. everyone and their mother seems to think that byu is unrealistic and oppressive for demanding sexual purity from its students. on top of that, people accuse the school of hypocrisy, saying that there are probably a lot of people committing this act, so it’s not fair to punish one student, especially when it could jeopardize his career. again, this comes down to common sense. whether or not you agree with the fact that sex before marriage is wrong, abstinence is what’s required by the school’s honor code, and everyone who attends the school knows this.
i’m sure that there are plenty of people at byu having premarital sex who don’t get caught, but there’s really nothing that can be done about that. if a student chooses not to come forward and isn’t informed on by someone else, chances are they’ll be able to finish their education at byu without ever being in danger of discipline. the enforcement of the honor code is mostly enabled by the students themselves, who are given the responsibility of managing their own decisions and dealing with whatever fallout may come. i don’t see this as hypocritical or unfair, i see it as an incredible opportunity to prepare for life beyond college. yes, davies’ career track might change, and yes, byu’s basketball team may not make it to the final four. it sucks, but the reality is that our choices have weight, they have meaning for us and for those we live and work with. no man is an island, and davies is finding this out the hard way. i say good on him, and good on byu. go cougs.
that is my vent for the day, and if you are still with me, i thank you for listening.