Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Basketball and BYU's Honor Code

Yes, I'm proud of BYU for putting principles first and being willing to jeopardize basketball glory by removing a key member of the team for an honor code violation. I wish we had that kind of integrity in more parts of our country. But I also feel terrible for the player affected and wish that the media (as in the Salt Lake Tribune) wouldn't repeat the alleged misdeed that got him booted. Really, does the whole world have to know that he confessed to missing three months of home teaching in a row? Or was that two months? Actually, it's none of my business.

The real story here, though, may not be isn't the integrity of BYU, but might be the courage and integrity of starting forward Brandon Davies, the young man who, after slipping up in some part of his life, hopefully did what he believed to be right to come clean--even though it would deprive him of a chance to compete for basketball glory on a team ranked #3 in the nation. Repenting and doing what he understood to be right in God's eyes was more important. Sure, it would have been better if hadn't gone astray in the first place, but everyone slips up in various ways and we all need to turn and repent to come back to the Savior. Sometimes the price seems high, as it does in this case, but my guess is that he's a far better man for having made the painful decision to come clean. Thank you, Brandon, for your courageous choice.

Update: March 5 Stories are never as simple as they seem at first. I realize that I don't know if there was a courageous choice or not that Brandon made, so I've edited my last paragraph to be a little less certain. The word "hopefully" is newly added.

25 comments:

Karilyn said...

I too, think it is very sad and pathetic that the media chose to invade this young man's personal life. How many of the people reporting his deeds have done things which might even be considered worse?

They really had no need to report the reasons behind his not playing.

*shaking my head*

Let him without sin cast the first stone, and this is Utah news media I'm talking about - the "family friendly" state.

Anonymous said...

Casting the first stone seems to be a specialty of the Media Pharisees. Very ugly of you, Salt Lake Tribune! Shameful journalism.

Latter-day Guy said...

Well, BYU shares some of the blame in the ensuing media fiasco. Instead of citing "Honor Code violations," (which, since it resulted in suspension, was essentially code for sexual transgression) they should have simply made no comment whatsoever. While his role as an athlete put him under slightly higher scrutiny than the average college student, BYU could and should have done more to protect his privacy, instead of throwing him under the bus. While the school gets kudos from media outlets for "sticking to their guns," they've just made the repentance process infinitely more difficult and painful for a young man in a tough situation. If I were his parent, I would be LIVID.

Rich said...

If that is code for sexual transgression that is from the other side because that isn't the only honor code violation. So if that's all BYU said then leave it alone. He is in a high profile position and BYU will always get approached for a comment by the media. Don't expect answers from the Y if it needs to be personal. The media sells gossip and that's what this is.

Anonymous said...

The media uses the Church to spice up the gossip it sells its readers, and the Church uses the media to broadcast the priggish rectitude and smug sense of moral superiority it sells its members. Everybody wins, 'cuz it's a symbiotic relationship. The media and the Church use, and deserve, each other.

Karilyn asks, How many of the people reporting his deeds have done things which might even be considered worse? By "worse," do you mean things like campaigning to take away the marriage rights of gay people in California? I would certainly consider such a thing worse, much worse.

FWIW, I'm Jewish and have always wondered why religious schools like BYU, Baylor, and Notre Dame invest so much in their athletics. You might have noticed that this is not exactly the case at Yeshiva University. To me it just shows how much certain religions have given themselves over to the shallower values of the secular culture--in the one place, the university, that ought to maintain a sort of critical distance from that culture.

Anonymous said...

My experience with BYU and athletes is that if BYU can keep the incident quiet, they will. I imagine that a baby bump was a little too obvious to keep quite about, so they threw the athlete under the bus. Had he just been caught smoking or drinking of stealing, (like some BYU athletes I know) I imagine this kid would still be playing BB for them.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

I can tolerate a little religious prejudice, but some of the anti-sports bigotry is just going to far.

What basis do you have for accusing the Church of exploiting the media to promote itself? The chips land where they may when players start chopping away at the rules of the honor code. The story came from the Tribune, not a Church press release.

Anonymous said...

What basis do you have for accusing the Church of exploiting the media to promote itself?... The story came from the Tribune, not a Church press release.

What basis?! Well, first, there's the very fact that the Church has a public relations office. Any organization that has a PR department is not exactly an organization that just "lets the chips fall where they may"!

Think, say, about the social sacrifices made by over the years by Mennonites because of their pacifism, and compare them to the sacrifices being made right now by our naughty little forward. One point of comparison: the former don't wind up splashed all over the papers and getting spun by a church PR department like the latter, precisely because the Mennonites, to their immense credit, don't really do PR. They don't have the same kind of symbiotic relationship to the mass media that the LDS Church so obviously does. (Seen any TV commercials lately in which affable-looking Mennonites declare their religious affiliation? Me neither.)

One result of this difference is to reinforce the perception among the more discriminating students of American religion that, to the LDS, words like "honor" and "integrity" and "consequences" are largely about what people do with their genitalia, not about what some of us consider somewhat more important aspects of the Gospel, such as peace and justice. The public comes to think more and more of Christianity as priggishness, which is really not good for the Gospel.

And yes, the story came from the Tribune, not a Church press release. But so what? Did you not notice that the story included statements from a Church spokeswoman? Do you suppose her remarks (and the many since, and the many that will follow) are not in some way calculated remarks? Which is to say, remarks designed to spin the chips rather than just letting them fall where the may?

The odd thing is not that, in this modern age, an image-conscious Church would have a symbiotic relationship to the media, but that, in this modern age, any of its members would be so naive as to deny it.

FWIW, that "religious prejudice" line is pretty lame. Or rather, a smokescreen behind which can be hidden a pretty lame argument. You should save the term "religious prejudice" for instances where one person disadvantages another on the basis of their religion. When someone says, "I don't care about qualifications, I just don't hire Mormons," that's religious prejudice. Criticism of a church's beliefs or practices often accompanies religious prejudice, but cannot in itself, without real evidence, be held to constitute religious prejudice. Otherwise we would have to accuse a certain holy personage of religious prejudice for telling Joseph Smith that all the other religions were false. In addition, we would wind up with a decidedly tilted playing field in the public sphere, in which one side gets to say the most outrageous things about the other with relative impugnity. ("Yes, it's true that we disadvantage gay people because they are gay, but because our reasons for doing so are religious, we will tar you as the bigot should you try publicly to rebut those reasons." I refuse to put up with that kind of thing. I believe in debating on a level playing field.)

Also FWIW, I have no anti-sports prejudice. I just happen to have a vision of churches and universities that doesn't happen to include big-time sports. I am no more guilty of anti-sports bigotry than the Church is guilty of anti-sex bigotry. We each just happen to have a strong sense of when and where something is appropriate. Big-time sports is no more appropriate to university life than sex is to unmarried life. (I know you were kinda sorta joking with that "anti-sports bigotry" remark, but that doesn't mean my response cannot be instructive.)

Papa D said...

BYU published ONLY what it had to publish - the overall, umbrella reason for the dismissal. To say they are culpable in this is silly, imo.

Differing beliefs regarding the Honor Code are one thing; blaming BYU and the LDS Church for how this has played out is . . . I'll be charitable . . . simply silly.

Latter-day Guy said...

Nope, BYU did not HAVE TO publish anything. They could have simply said that Davies would no longer be playing, and the reasons were confidential. All further questions could have been given a "No comment" response.

I'm not implying there was anything malicious in their actions. But the results were, nevertheless, unfortunate for Davies.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jewish Anonymous above. Chastity is part of the Church's honor code and should be respected for that reason. The equal protection of the laws is part of America's honor code and therefore equally deserving of respect. Hooray for Branden Davies and BYU basketball! Boo for the Church and Proposition 8.

Creek said...
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Anonymous said...

Creek: Are you saying that BYU allowed him in when he did not meet the academic criteria?
I pretty much say Boo to BYU for that if that is true as so many other students get turned away each year and here they are letting in someone that could not make the grades. I guess what is true of many schools is tue of BYU as well, they look the other way if they can get an athlete that will help their program shine.
As for the 'church exploiting the media' comment. Well, BYU and the Church have PR offices. And those PR offices know what they are there for. It is to spin good news about BYU or the Church. Can't see why the need to get huffy about it.

Anonymous said...

Papa: How do you know BYU had to publish that he was suspended for an honor code violation? Where does it say they had to tell anyone? You are way off base as usual. Stop letting your defend at all costs attitude cloud simple logic.

Papa D said...

"You are way off base as usual. Stop letting your defend at all costs attitude cloud simple logic."

Thanks for your opinion. We obviously disagree.

Anonymous said...

Papa: How do you know BYU had to publish that he was suspended for an honor code violation? Where does it say they had to tell anyone?

It has nothing to do with disagreeing. You simply do not know what you are talking about. BYU did not have to say what the reason was. You said "BYU published ONLY what it had to publish "
So...... where are you getting this info? How about a real answer this time?

Papa D said...

"You simply do not know what you are talking about."

It's obvious you believe that. No need to throw the insults. We disagree, based on my decades of experience and my understanding of the process involved in Honor Code violations and how they are handled.

If you want to take the most narrow definition of the phrase "had to", I'll gladly grant that they didn't have to disclose it was an Honor Code violation. I'l gladly grant that they had a choice, technically speaking. If you view this as a debate you "have to" win, I will concede the victory to you - as I think, in this case, a good argument can be made for either stance, depending on how strictly the concept is parsed.

I think they had to; you think they didn't have to; I'm fine with that. I certainly don't think it's worth arguing about, so this will be the end of my comments on it.

SupaFlowaPowa said...

It's great that he understands the Atonement and even though the media is capturing all of it, it has sparked many gospel conversations for me at work, with non-members, about his dedicated fans who support him no matter what because the first and foremost mission of BYU basketball is not to just win games and the mission is greater than that. Danny Ainge and Vai Sikahema all had awesome comments that not only support what he did but emphasize why it's so important for every BYU athlete to do the same - and I'm glad the media has picked up on it so others can hear their testimonies and maybe wonder why and ask questions and learn more.

SupaFlowaPowa said...

ps Creek - people don't get accepted into colleges just for their school grades. It's an overall assessment of their capabilities at the school which can include grades and other characteristics, in his case, his basketball playing skills. I'm pretty sure ACT and GPA scores are just averages and in order to determine an average, you have high and low numbers. I wasn't within the average of my college but I still got in and I did pretty fine for myself. And you remind me of the SAT prep class directors I had that said, why would you even think of going to a school like that with your grades? To you I say PSHHHHHH watch me!

Creek said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Papa: "I think they had to; you think they didn't have to; I'm fine with that. I certainly don't think it's worth arguing about, so this will be the end of my comments on it."
I guess we are not connecting here. I ask why you say BYU "had to" say it was an honor code violation. I asked you why you say they had to, and where you got that information that they had to disclose that.
That certainly is not that hard to understand or answer.
You chose not to answer and turn it into a debate. You chose to say I think the opposite, when in fact, I did not state that BYU had to or did not have to. I simply asked you why you had said that.
And this seems to be an issue with you. You are asked why you state something, and rather than explain your source or admit it was your opinion or something you just thought or felt, you choose to not answer and feign you were insulted. My goodness, asking you why you say something is now an insult?
You view a question posed to you as an argument to be won or lost. Kinda trite, or telling, I am just not sure. But it displays either thin skin or embarassment at having to admit that what you state as facts are just opinions. That is too bad, as it keeps you from learning as your defenses go up when someone questions your thoughts.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Papa D said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Papa D said...

and that is why I choose not to respond. Fascinating comment.

Jeff Lindsay: said...

JDaddy, I really enjoyed what you had to say in "Let's Talk Mormon" on your blog. Very good points. Thanks for your kindness!