The video of University of Utah football players doing a mock baptism has caused considerable controversy. Then again, it is BYU-Utah week, so controversy seems to be the norm.
The video, posted on YouTube on August 23, was addressed by Utah coach Kyle Whittingham on Wednesday with this statement: “We have addressed this issue with our players, and although it was poor judgment on their part, there was absolutely no malice or disrespect intended towards any particular religion or rite.”
I tend to agree with Whittingham. First, that it was in poor taste, a thoughtless, insensitive college move. But second, it wasn’t necessarily directed at BYU or even Mormons. It appears to be players messing around in the new football center, which opened in August. Utah has 27 LDS returned missionaries and 49 Utahns on the team. Alienating half your team by mocking its religion seems unlikely, even for college kids.
Numerous religions use baptism by immersion, so the stunt wasn’t necessarily aimed at Mormons. However, the players in the video were lucky. Sometimes mocking religious rites can become a gigantic deal.
Since the issue has been addressed by the coach, people should probably chalk the incident up to unthinking horseplay — that shouldn’t happen again — and move on.