Don’t get government involved in BYU-Utah rivalry

When you wield a hammer, it must be such a temptation to start whacking away at all kinds of things that annoy you.Capitol

Greg Hughes has a hammer, figuratively. He has a literal gavel as speaker of the House in the Utah Legislature. The hammer he wields is the political clout to shape the direction of lawmaking in the state.

Hughes told reporters this week he has heard from constituents who want him to do something about the University of Utah’s decision toback out of future basketball games with archrival Brigham Young University.

That’s a decision about which a lot of folks are upset right now, a decision allegedly based on worries the rivalry has become so heated someone might get hurt.

The rivalry stretches back to 1909. The two teams missed playing each other only one year, 1944. That was because of the war.

If this decision stands, Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill, coach Larry Krystkowiak and Adolph Hitler will share the dubious distinction of being the onlypeople who have successfully kept the teams from playing.

But does that mean we need to pass a law against it?

As upset as fans are right now, the only thing that could make matters worse would be to turn the rivalry into “The Annual Nanny State Classic.”

 Fox 13 in Salt Lake quoted Hughes as saying, “Taxpayers pay for the University of Utah, and so there’s a natural reaching out to me.” By that logic, state lawmakers could micromanage everything taught in the U.’s classrooms, as well.

It would be especially galling if state lawmakers rallied to save a basketball game while they have been unwilling to find a way to help thousands of Utahns who are left without Medicaid coverage because of Obamacare.

Besides, there are two teams involved here, and one of them is a private university. If government forces the teams to play, it would be dictating BYU’s schedule, as well.

State lawmakers should deal with real issues. A game in which young men, dressed in shorts, dribble a ball and try to throw it through a hoop is not a real issue, no matter how fun it may be.

Yes, Hughes wields a political hammer. I can’t believe he would swing it in defense of a basketball game. But if he did, he may end up just hitting his own thumb.


About the Author

Jay Evensen

Jay Evensen is the Senior Editorial Columnist for the Deseret News. He has 32 years of journalism experience covering politics and a variety of other assignments at news organizations ranging from United Press International in New York City to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Deseret News, where he has worked since 1986. During that time, he has won numerous local, regional and national awards. Most recently, he was given the Cameron Duncan Media Award, given annually in Washington, D.C., by the advocacy group RESULTS, to the journalist judged to have done the most to further the cause of the world's poorest people.

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