Saturday, March 5, 2011

You May Want a Refund…

But here are my two cents anyway…

…about the BYU basketball player that has been suspended from playing because he had sex with his girlfriend…

…you’re welcome to look away now…

(you were warned)

When I first heard about this I made a conscious decision to have no opinion about it, to let the information trickle in, to digest it for a few days. I am predisposed to certain knee jerk reactions to things of this nature. I grew up non Mormon about a block away from BYU, but joined the church at the end of my teenage years. That being said, growing up ‘outside’ of the club has made me kind of a brat about certain things. I feel like I’m more aware of that now and I do try and repress the urge to vomit and spend some time simply being objective.

So a few days later, where do I stand? Well, I am not going to make this about BYU, or how groups of men sit together in a room and analyze whether female members of the student body should allowed to wear their purse straps across their chests because it draws too much attention to their boobs (they’re not allowed to). I really want to focus on this exact situation; a star basketball player having consensual sex with his girlfriend, confessing to his bishop about it, and then having that private information become national news as he is suspended from the team.

Those are the facts as I understand them. They are puzzling to me. The news coverage of it has not been as crushing as I thought it could be, there even seems to be a small amount of sentiment that while many sports stars in colleges across the nation are actually perpetrating much worse offenses yet receiving no punishment, that BYU, with great financial loss and unwanted scrutiny, is holding the bottom line for not just one, but all of their players year after year.

You ready for this? I get that. I might even admire it a little. How many times do coaches and parents and teachers, and adults who should set the standard for behavior, show our sports stars that they aren’t accountable for their behavior? That they are somehow different or an exception? And how does that immediate gratification really help them in the scheme of their life as they grow older and become like everyone else, but never learned to accept responsibility or disappointment in their formative years?

But here is my problem; if I understand my religion correctly, chastity is a sacred issue. I don’t know what the solution for something like this is, but I can’t imagine that for an educational and religious institution like BYU, that what they are doing here serves the educational and religious need of this student. Does BYU, or any college, have an obligation because of the way sports stars are perceived in our culture, to afford a member of their team that serves them in a very public way, a certain amount of privacy for growth, and repentance?

This isn’t the NFL or the NBA, this is college sports. I think it’s different.

I really believe in my heart that one of the things that brings me back to considering myself a Mormon over and over again, is that I came to earth to stumble. It’s kind of a good plan! According to my Sunday school teachers, we could have chilled out forever in blissful knowledge, basking in the presence of God, but he knows that for us to grow, to really understand the joy and the knowledge, we would have to live without it, use our free will to splat on our faces, and to seek his light in the darkness.

Gosh, that all sounds so very religious of me. Sorry. What I’m trying to say is that I am not trying to have a perfect journey, I am trying to have an honest journey. That is what feeds my spirit and guides me in the meantime. Oh, and I think sex is private, I think it is sacred, and sorry for this, but I think it’s awesome, too. Mostly, I think it is not CNN’s business to know when ANYONE is trying to navigate this tricky issue. Especially not of a college student who has tried his best to be great on the court, and monogamous in the bedroom.

And, honestly, to top it off, I hate it when places like BYU can draw a line in the sand on a national scale that reflects onto my religion, which I view very differently from the people that run BYU.


Carly said...

amen. enough said.

Kateastrophe said...

While I agree with you on so many points there's a couple of things that I have researched that I wanted to share about this topic, just as a perspective thing. And I hope it comes across right because I truthfully agree with your sentiments.

First, Brandon Davies turned himself in to the Honor Code Committee. He didn't confess to his bishop who turned him in. He wasn't told on by some snitch student (which are so common at that school). He went straight to the team then to the Committee and admitted that he'd broken a major rule of the school and gracefully accepted the consequences.

Second, no one from BYU shared what Brandon did. Now I'm sure we all guessed the second we heard "Honor Code Infraction" because it's not like he had a beer and got kicked off the team, but they have a non-disclosure policy. Again, Brandon shared himself - well, authorized someone to share for him. I'm not sure why, but he did. At first I thought the girlfriend was pregnant so he HAD to share but as I understand it, that's not appearing to be the case.

From what I can gather he's a great kid with a good head on his shoulders. He was adopted by a single Mom in Provo from a bad situation in Philadelphia and has been an active member of the church ever since. I think his conscious took over and he knew he'd broken a major rule at a private institution where he'd signed a piece of paper saying that he wouldn't do certain things. I think he felt that he had to own up to that and has behaved in a manner way beyond his 19 years in the aftermath.

NOW, I could go on and on about the way that BYU carries out their Honor Code investigations and the Gestapo like attitude. I could go on and on about those snitch students who seem to think they're better than anyone else and "without sin" but, from what I have gathered on this situation, neither of those points make a difference.

This is a RARE case where the student did what he thought was the right thing, consequences be damned. And yesterday, I saw a whole crowd of people who probably just watched their dreams of a big post-season die because of him, give him a LOT of respect for that when he walked on to the court and sat on the bench to support his team. I saw the team come back after a horrible loss and a bad week without their #2 player and win big. THEN I watched them run over and hug the guy who, for all intents and purposes, screwed them over. So in the same breath this kid is being publicly humiliated, he's also being publicly honored and respected for doing what he thought was right.

To me, that's what this story is about. And I think this kid is going to be a better man because of what he's going through.

Alissa Rae King said...

You're fab, Kate. There has been a lot of conflicting information available, Honor Code Committee is less nauseating to me than bishop as far as what I would expect from a bishop. And I should have said that, like you, I have been very impressed with his behavior through this whole thing. But it doesn't just affect him, I also can't help thinking about his girlfriend, about their families, about BYU's general fear of boobs.

I don't know what they should have done instead, there is not a person in attendance there who doesn't know what they are signing up for. I guess I should keep my mouth shut because I could never have gone to BYU... but the fact that they have public consequences for their students private situations, and that they do it on the platform of a religion that I share always gives me the creeps!

And where you and I will always agree is that the greater the struggle the more opportunity we have to come out the other side wiser and stronger. We should make a date for a five year reunion on this story for the main players, because no matter what, this is pretty interesting stuff.

Kateastrophe said...

Never keep your mouth shut! Your opinions are totally valid and in many cases, exactly what happens. I know plenty of students who get kicked out because their bishops are required to endorse them and when they can't...all he'll breaks loose. I just found this particular story so fascinating because if the information I've found is true (which I forgot to mention in my huge comment up there is also possible) this story becomes such a different one. Anyway, I hope it didn't come across like I was scolding or shushing, we just happen to be two pretty passionate BYU fans who have been highly obsessed with Mr. Davies this week so I wanted to share. Love you!!!

Kateastrophe said...

We being Matt and I! Seriously. Obsessed.

Alissa Rae King said...

That's because it's pretty darn fascinating! Anything that get's Jon Stewart to talk about Mormons is bound to be the kind of thing we are already talking about here.

I heard what you said in the spirit you intended because I know I'm hard on BYU, but I know that you know why I am!

Did that last sentence make sense? Maybe I should have gone to college after all ... :)