Vai Sikahema’s (non)betrayal

There has been considerable indignation in the social media over former BYU player Vai Sikahema, a popular Philadelphia sports anchor, appearing on Twitter, flashing the “U” sign with Holly Rowe of ESPN and Ute coach Kyle Whittingham.

Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 8.42.57 PMI say it’s no big deal.

I’m not saying it wasn’t annoying to Cougar fans. But it’s not a federal case.

Sikahema played college ball at BYU with Kyle Whittingham. In posing for the picture, he was showing encouragement to his friend and former teammate. I’m guessing Sikahema might pose if someone asked him to do so at almost any other college, just being a good guy.

One could argue that flashing the “U” sign was pushing the envelope. But Sikahema is a true BYU fan; he attends numerous Cougar games. He has spoken there at devotionals.  I’ve heard him often express his loyalty to the school on the radio, and predict the Cougars would beat Utah in their rivalry games.

But he also is a Whittingham fan. It’s not unlike an acquaintance of mine who is a hard core BYU fan. But when her brother ended up playing at Utah, she suspended her total fandom for a few years — long enough for her brother to graduate.

She never stopped cheering for BYU. It’s just that she cheered for Utah, too.

Loyalty to a school is great for former players. That shouldn’t preclude loyalty to a decades-long friend. I say give Sikahema a break.

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  1. David R. Shorten

    People who are upset at this have way too much time on their hands. I like Via’s articles whenever he writes them. He is a very good writer and DesNews would do well to get him to write regularly for the paper.

    I like Rock’s columns too.

  2. Joe W.

    Of course there’s nothing wrong with it. I root for Utah much of the year as well, even though I am a BYU fan. The crazies on both sides need to lighten up.

    • Kralon

      Absolutely agree, many of us like both BYU and Utah and think they both have great coaches. The only time we can’t root for both is when they play each other and even then I can root for some favorite players on each team!

    • Bear

      They really are not one in the same. Some locals want to make it out to be that way. But there is a gap between the two programs that continues to grow wider and wider as PAC12 type talent comes on board for Utah. A couple more years and it will become more evident to everyone paying attention and those that choose to keep seeing something different will just look foolish with their claims.

  3. Ken Durrant

    I am a devout Utah fan unless they are playing BYU…I am sure Vai is as well, get over it people.

  4. David Terry

    Any of my fellow BYU fans (I use that term with hesitancy as I can’t stand a good share of my fellow Cougar followers) who has a problem with what Vai did needs to get a major clue. Get a flippin’ reality check as they say in Happy Valley. We are talking about Vai helping a kid who just went through a major life trajedy. If it would help fof Vai or for all of us to paint ourselves red with a big “U” on our chests, we should do it!

    • JmThms

      There is nothing wrong with what Vai did. Now, for the poster who posted “Any of my fellow BYU fans (I use that term with hesitancy as I can’t stand a good share of my fellow Cougar followers)”, I can only wonder what an honest Utah fan would say about their fellow fan base. I don’t think there is quite equivalency in the rancor. I know I will be criticized for writing that but BYU fans anti-Utah behavior always seemed more reactionary to me. That might be changing but my experience since the early pre-Internet days (Prodigy intranet system)was that way too many Utah fans lived to attack anything BYU, at the expense of simply following their own school and teams. Now, Utah’s football program at that point had not re-ascended. So at that point jealousy and an inferiority complex were all but understandable. Otherwise I and seemingly all other BYU fans on that Prodigy system (the old WAC component of the college football discussion forums) could not have cared less about the U of U sports. The Ute attention paid to anything BYU – trying to cast BYU in the worse light possible – bordered on the pathological.

      • Uteology

        “I know I will be criticized for writing that but BYU fans anti-Utah behavior always seemed more reactionary to me.”


        Lenny Gomez’s reactionary time was after a loss.

        Max Hall’s reactionary time was about 360 days.

        The grown, BYU fan that attempted to assault a Ute cheerleader @LES lacked any reactionary time considering what our cheerleader did to him.

  5. John Chiara

    I have no problem with Vai or the others flashing the University of Miami’s hand sign.

    The real issue BYU fans have with Vai is his repeated public criticisms of BYU and Bronco Mendenhall over the last 3 years and the fact that he is using his influence to sway athletes to attend the University of Utah. Sikahema used race based arguments in his criticism of BYU when Joe Dupaix and Ben Cahoon were hired as well.

    Sikahema seems like a charming guy and his friendship with Kyle Whittingham is great. His efforts to advance the prospects of the Polynesian community are laudable, however, as BYU fan it seems that he has elevated his personal issues with Bronco Mendenhall to a very nasty and public place. His comments have damaged BYU’s image.

  6. BlueCoug

    I have no problem with Vai flashing the “U” sign. Knowing a little bit about the Poly community (we’re friends with Harvey Unga, Tui Crighton, Steve Kafusi, Fui Vakapuna, and many others), to me, Vai is simply demonstrating solidarity with his Poly brothers. Vai is still True Blue!

  7. az guy

    Anyone who cans on Via for this is ridiculous. You might even say that KWhitt is more like Lavell Edwards than anyone on the BYU staff. To turn against someone or not cheer for a friend of 30 years because he is at a rival school would show a lack of character IMHO.

    I don’t believe Via agrees 100% with the course the Cougars are on. I think he has been 100% transparent on that and I respect him for it. The hiring of Mark Autuaia should make him happy though.

  8. wwookie

    Vai is a class guy, just like coach Whit. Fun to watch Vai in college and the pros.

    Wish most cougar and ute fans could be like him, cheering for good guys no matter where they call home.

  9. Roscoe

    I’d be more concerned about being photographed with Holly Rowe. That can’t elevate your status as a serious journalist.

  10. Brad

    Love to read Vai’s article and love the fact that he is a Cougar. It is awesome that Kyle and 1/2 his staff also came from BYU. I am sorry they are not in Provo.. but hey… everyone can’t be. Nothing wrong with the photo. Looks to me like Vai is sending the U a nasty gram anyway. Look at his face. No respect for the U at all.

  11. Dave

    Vai is a talented, respectful dude that we should be proud of! That said…I am a UTE fan and college football fan… big time… have many great BYU friends that love to argue. Little secret here is that one of my friends was a previous Zoo football coach and has great seats in the Legacy section. I get to go Zombie Stadium behind the Iron Curtain with him at least one game a year. I always wear my Utah hat and put it on his dash-board when I great him in the driveway… which he throws in the back seat of his car! Always a great time and blast to rib each other. I actually cheer on the Zombies to beat the opposition.. except of course when they play “THE” University of Utah. By-the-way, my son and I have tickets to see the UTES destroy USC!!! GO UTES!!!

  12. Elko Fan

    C’mon people. Really not a big deal. I’d be happy to support any of my friends wherever they go which is what they are doing. The bigger question is why dose the U think that showing the “loser” sign with its mirrored image is good? It really just makes those of us who are not Utah fans laugh. (that with the Utah fight song. Have you ever sung “M I C K E Y M O U S E” to the “Utah Man” fight song? It fits perfectly and also really makes me laugh. If Utah wanted to be taken seriously, they should really look into changing their logo and there fight song.)

  13. Chuck Farley

    Doesn’t matter – Whittingham will get canned after this year, and Sikahema will come crawling back.

  14. Red Cougar

    The travesty is that stupid double L U sign in the first place. It just looks like we are copying the University of Miami. Dumb.

  15. InspectorC

    While I greatly respect both schools, I’m not really a “fan” of either. My allegiance lies with my own alma mater, of course.

    I *AM* LDS; and when BYU “fans” (primarily, fellow church members) act like this, it EMBARRASSES ME to no end as a church member and Utahan. This is EXACTLY the type of childish, totally-asinine response/reaction that gives the Y (and the church?) such a BAD public image and a sour taste in the mouth of so many of us.

    GROW UP, COUGAR FANS…. and show some class!!

  16. Nanato13

    I am an avid BYU fan-but good grief people-it’s a game!!! If Vai chooses to support Kyle as a friend, that’s great. I’m all for getting excited about football rivalry, but sometimes people act like a bunch of little kids.

  17. Mike Brame

    I notice something different.

    I notice that if being in the PAC = increasing PAC talent = increasing separation by the suddenly elite team from the other everyday, run-of-the-mill football teams, Wazzu would be a lot more respectable. So would Colorado.

    I think anyone expecting improving teams based on a PAC birthright just may spend more time waiting and expecting and less time enjoying.

  18. BigCougar

    I don’t have a problem with Vai taking a picture with a buddy and old teammate. My issue with Vai is his constant running down of BYU in his articles. If he was fair about it he’d have good things to say as well as criticizing failings but lately he just has gotten consumed with negativity towards his alma mater and needs to get over it and forgive and forget and practice a little of what he preaches.

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