Are fans trashing BYU’s image?


In case you’re a BYU fan just starting to recover from the Cougars’ loss to Utah, this may or may not make you feel better.

Yup. BYU fans throwing garbage on the officials.

Don’t say you didn’t think of doing it yourself. But to actually do it?

So exactly how big a deal was it?

It was embarrassing, but that looks like most of it. It appears most of the refuse was just paper. In New York and Philadelphia they throw batteries and such.

But any time things are thrown from the crowd, it’s a bad scene. I was at a BYU basketball game in the 1980s when a metal ingot, thrown from the stands after a loss to Wyoming, hit a fellow writer in the cheek. The cut was deep enough that he had to be attended by a trainer.

Aside from the potential for danger, there is also the issue of sportsmanship. For a school known for treating visiting teams well, it’s a step back.

What happened in Provo last Saturday wasn’t unusual in American sports. It probably happens at many schools. But BYU is adamant that it isn’t like many schools.

The poor behavior was certainly in the minority. Thousands exercised their right to boo (though even that has been discouraged by school presidents over the years), but throwing things is another matter.

It would be wise to get this situation fixed before it becomes a habit.

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  1. Jefferson


    I’m from the Great State of Utah, I’m LDS and I’m a big sports fan; and I’m neutral regarding this rivalry. I’m not really a fan of either the Y or the U. But I’m not “anti-Y” or “anti-UofU”, either.

    But this behavior by (presumably LDS?) students and fans at the Y is disgusting, shocking and embarrassing to me, as I’m sure it is to most Latter-day Saints. This is INEXCUSABLE behavior by the Y!!

    Maybe BYU needs to add a few more lines to their Honor Code, to address the issues of sportsmanship and behavior at athletic events?? And then enforce them strictly!

    Footnote: I know that BYU officials are reviewing this video footage, in an attempt to identify those fans in the stands who threw objects at the refs. But did you notice THE OLDER GUY STANDING ON THE GROUND LEVEL, in a blue shiny jacket, who got all up in the face of the refs as they passed by him??!! He didn’t throw anything or make any threatening moves, and you can’t really hear what he was saying to the refs. But he was obviously giving them a hard time and harrassing them. He invaded their personal-space to intimidate them, and was very threatening. How in the world did somebody with field-level credentials get THAT close to the refs?? He should be identified as well, and have charges pressed against him, or be disciplined to the fullest extent of whatever entity he represents!!

    • Osgrath

      There is plenty of ammunition in the honor code to address this; they just need to take the effort to identify the participants and take action.

  2. BlueCoug

    Yelling their discontent about the questionable officiating is one thing, but there’s no excuse EVER for throwing stuff at officials or at the opposing team. The fans responsible should be held accountable and BYU owes the officials an apology, which has very likely already been sent.

  3. Osgrath

    Given that KSL has footage of the incident, and the exact location is known, I hope the university rounds the perpetrators up on puts them on the academic sidelines for a semester or two. That kind of behavior should not be tolerated at any institution, whether church or state supported.

    Referees generally do the best they are capable of doing and don’t really have a horse in the race. They don’t try to screw one team over to favor another. If they are inept, they shouldn’t stay hired, but getting garbage thrown at them would be similar to you leaving your place of employment after a messed-up day to find the people in the street throwing garbage at you. Not good.

  4. Who am I sir?

    The article mentions an incident in the 80’s but did not discuss the action of BYU fans just a couple of years ago when the West Coast Conference reacted by saying that is not how fans of their conference members behave.

  5. BYU warrior

    Brad I saw this video on you tube and several people believe that it’s Utah fans that are throwing the trash, not BYU fans like everyone assumes. From the video it’s hard to tell exactly who is throwing what, but I do know that there were several Utah fans sitting in that section that night. So before everyone begins to hate on the BYU fans, let’s wait and see how this plays out.

    • Taraxopoios

      BYU Warrior, I don’t know what video you were watching, but there was way too much garbage being thrown for it to be coming from a few Utah fans sprinkled in that corner of the stadium. If you’ll watch closely you will also notice that it was coming from areas with no red. Quite frankly your pinning it on Utah fans is not far from the behavior shown by those who threw the garbage in the first place and almost as much of an embarrassment to true BYU fans.

    • Jason

      Oh, please. Why would Utah fans be hurling stuff at refs. They’re busy cheering and having fun and getting ready to go party. This is one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve ever read.

  6. Steven Jarvis

    The behavior of the fans after the game contrasts starkly with the ending of the Notre Dame Michigan State game I had seen earlier in the day. The two teams seemed more like friends than bitter rivals singing together on the field. That will never happen in a game involving Utah. As a Cougar, I concede Utah coaches, players and fans will behave as they always have. Most of them will be good sports. Others will display the dark-underbelly of hatred, swearing, attacking and just being vile. Cougar fans are supposed to be different. If the Ute fans cheer for paralysis (like some did as Williams laid there), or if Utah players mocked sacred ordinances, BYU fans should learn to ignore it and definitely not be the ones who contribute to it. Those who threw the trash brought shame to us all.

  7. Lifelong Cougar

    Um, “BYU Warrior,” quite frankly from one Y fan to another, it’s juvenile and shows a lack of class AT BEST to just point at Utah fans and say THEY did it. Seriously–you’re saying these trash-throwing gorillas in a matter of seconds suddenly saw an opportunity to embarrass BYU, pulled off their red shirts, pulled on their blue ones, and *then* started chucking any trash they could find? Don’t be ridiculous. Of course it was BYU fans–they were clearly all wearing blue–I hope not the same idiots who threw the debris at the St. Mary’s basketball game.

    Bad officiating is going to be a given when we play Pac-12 teams and are forced to hire their officials. Granted, they called a terrible game, and they were also the same crew that practically gift-wrapped the ASU-Wisconsin game for the Sun Devils the week before. I’d love to see them obligated to retrain for the rest of the season and prove they aren’t paid-off Pac-12 homers before being allowed anywhere near the field again. This crew deserves a bit of life under the microscope. STILL–let THEM be the idiots. BYU fans are supposed to know better than to throw physical tantrums at the refs after games. Might as well face the bitter truth: It looks like some don’t. Perhaps some fan retraining is in order as well.

  8. U90

    I don’t think this is the type of exposure church leaders had in mind for BYU football.

    It’s time for all members of the church, whether fans of BYU, Utah or some other school to take a good look at ourselves and set our priorities straight.

    A very good friend of mine who is not LDS and played JC ball in Oregon told me that Ricks College was, by far, the nastiest place he had ever played; threats, racial slurs etc. etc.

  9. Duckhunter

    I was standing right in that tunnel as the game ended and had a first hand view of what happened. My seats are on the east side and my kids seats are in the north stands so I walked down to the bottom of the ramp that comes down on the northeast side of the north bleachers. There was still a few seconds left in the game so I walked as far down the ramp towards the field as I could so I could see the last few seconds. Right when it ended a cop told me I had to move and they began to rope off the area the refs walk through to get to their locker room under the east stands which is that ramp.

    I was standing right behind that rope, in fact I can briefly see myself in one of the videos shot of the incident. Fans were booing loudly, and yelling insults at the refs, then some started to throw garbage at them, including some drink cups and even a couple of water bottles. One water bottle hit a cop who looked up angrily into the stands but obviously it was impossible to tell who threw it. They hurried the refs into their locker room.

    There were both BYU and Utah fans all around the area, in the stands above and standing in the area. I did not try to count how many of each and who was yelling although I assumed, and still assume, that it was BYU fans upset about the poor job these hacks did. That said these fans were completely over the line and there is no justification for what they did. It was actually a fairly ugly situation although it was very brief, no more than 15-20 seconds as the refs came up the ramp and went into their locker room.

    I think there is plenty of reason to doubt the integrity of pac12 officiating crews. There was plenty of reason to be upset with the hackjob this crew did on the field. But there is no excuse for doing what BYU fans did after the game. We need to behave better than that regardless of the dishonesty of the pac12’s refs.

  10. Martin

    @BYU warrior

    Dude, dont embarrass yourself or the rest of us. Of course these were BYU fans caught on film acting like idiots. If any of these people are reading this message board, PLEASE do BYU a favor and NEVER attend another BYU sporting event until you grow up and learn to act with a little more dignity.

  11. Hey Baby

    BYU fans need to realize how uneducated they are.

    Every single play in the NCAA is reviewed. Where is the beef? You lost…end it

    • Lifelong Cougar

      Really? Every single play in the NCAA is reviewed? Who does this, why, and what happens because of it? Since I’m so uneducated, would you please educate me about what you meant by your comment? Please also cite your source for this information; I’d be interested in knowing *everything* you know about this. My best thoroughly uneducated guess: Perhaps you meant to say that every single play in a game is *subject* to review? That’s the NCAA standard as I know it. But then again, I’m uneducated. Please enlighten me.

      • Lifelong Cougar

        OK, never mind–found the answer. You’re talking about how the replay assistant continuously reviews the plays on the field. Got it! Still, it’s the assistant’s judgment call as to whether the play should be reviewed. This assistant has no power to actually intervene or stop the clock when there’s a very real question about what’s happening on the field, as with ASU-Wisconsin. Again, that doesn’t excuse poor sportsmanship in the stands, but it doesn’t ensure that the refs are infallible, either.

  12. TOM

    This was not the only incident that resulted in BYU fans throwing garbage. I was at the game and my nephew and I are Utah fans. We cheered on our team to a victory but it seemed to not go well with some of the BYU fans in our section. Four different occasions, a middle-aged BYU fan threatened us through verbal assaults including wanting to beat us up at the end of the game. What’s strange is the only thing we were doing was cheering on our team. After BYU got down by 13 points, a BYU fan behind us hurled a water bottle directed to us missing but hitting another BYU fan. Several BYU fans in front of me started blaming me and my nephew (only six Utah fans were in that section) for throwing the water bottle. Comments continued to escalate including two BYU fans going directly to the usher making false accusations in efforts to kick us out. These blatant lies continued for 15 minutes and seemed to be infectious. Before we knew it, it was an all out mob of BYU fans making complete idiots out of themselves. Finally, a BYU usher who had a code of honor of her own, provided eyewitness that it was in fact a BYU fan who hurled the water bottle. The sequence of events at this rivalry game along with past incidents at BYU games are apparently not being addressed. Unfortunately, this paints BYU and has an effect on the entire LDS faith including the hard-working missionaries who are out in unfamiliar territories trying to preach the gospel. BYU needs to address this issue quickly and find out who the assailants were and set an example to others that this behavior is not tolerated! If that happens I will have much more respect for the BYU organization and I think others will also gain respect. By the way I want to thank three BYU fans who came up to us after the incident and said keep cheering on your Utes because that’s what a fan should do.

  13. It's Usually in the Middle

    The problem here is that people actually believe that Cougar fans are supposed to be different. Really? Where does this come from? If “different” = arrogant, than yes. I’m tired of this notion that some how the BYU fan, completely removed form the athlete and in many cases even the student body, is some how elevated above the rest of us poor neanderthals who really don’t know any better. I don’t have a dog in this fight, until I read the article (“For a school known for treating visiting teams well, it’s a step back.”) and these posts, wherein the dismay really isn’t aimed at the garbage throwing, but rather at the fact that a BYU fan, of all people, actually threw garbage. A fact that one poster was so sure was impossible, that he concocted the idea that it was really Utah fans in disguise. Huh? Fans all over the country (even in heathen infested universities) understand that throwing garbage at refs is not okay, period. Qualifying this with an extra gasp because it was a BYU fan is ridiculous. In fact, I think it shows that BYU fan may be more susceptible to this kind of behavior than others, simply because he is more likely to equate his self worth, identity, and perhaps even religion to the success of the football or basketball teams. In most fan bases, these are separate. BYU, on the other hand, actively seeks to combine them and promote them. Bronco is masterful at it.

  14. steeleute

    I’d glad you shared that because many BYU fans tend to think the heckling is only at games at Rice Eccles.
    BYU Warrior:
    Utah fans throwing the garbage? WOW! You must be really desperate to take the bad spotlight off of your fan base to throw out that bogus accusation. BY the way, for all of you that were at the game and think the refs gave the game to Utah. There weren’t any calls or no-calls that the ESPN commentators disagreed with. In fact, the only call they didn’t agree with was the reverse on the PI call that Bronco challenged because the video showed that the Utah receiver was interfered with before the ball was tipped so Utah should’ve had a first down on that drive instead of having to punt. At least Anae was honest about being out played by Utah unlike Bronco and most of the fans.

  15. Tyson

    “Perhaps there is no better laboratory to observe the sin of pride than the world of sports. I have always loved participating in and attending sporting events. But I confess there are times when the lack of civility in sports is embarrassing. How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans?

    I have watched sports fans vilify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice.

    …My dear brethren of the priesthood, my beloved fellow disciples of the gentle Christ, should we not hold ourselves to a higher standard? As priesthood bearers, we must realize that all of God’s children wear the same jersey. Our team is the brotherhood of man.”


    Enough said!

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