The Breakdown: The courage of conviction |

The Breakdown: The courage of conviction

Sports editor Bryce Evans

You know that noise you heard all week? Yeah, that was the sound of thousands of soap boxes splintering and fracturing under the enormous weight of long-winded rants by sportswriters nationwide.

Negotiations over a new NFL collective bargaining agreement have thrown people into two camps – those for ever-greedy billionaire owners and those backing the poor, lowly millionaire athletes.

A slew of trades (Melo, Deron Williams, Kendrick Perkins, etc.), contract negotiations (Albert Pujols), recruiting violations (it is estimated that it costs $25,000 for a Duck to stay afloat in Oregon) and a slathering of sleazery (“DUI” is starting to look like a new stat line for Major League Baseball players) have all given us plenty to bark about.

Although, nothing really compared to the hysteria surrounding BYU booting one of its top hoopsters off its (potential Final Four) basketball team for violations of the school’s “Honor Code.”

For those who aren’t all that familiar with this story, here’s a brief summary: Brandon Davies, the No. 3 Cougars’ leading rebounder and third-leading scorer, was abruptly suspended from the team on Tuesday and missed the squad’s next game (a loss to New Mexico). The school issued a simple statement saying Davies broke the school’s “Honor Code,” which is a essentially a simple breakdown of the wrongs and rights of the LDS church. It was reported – although never confirmed by anyone affiliated with the school or the team – that his transgression was premarital sex, which he (again, reportedly) admitted.

Then, the debate began: Are BYU’s restrictions on athletes too, um, strict? Was the school just making an example of one athlete at the price of his reputation and the team’s collective hopes? Or was the school simply showing how out of tune with modern society it is?

Well, I’d say none of the above, but let’s take a step back for moment and play the kid’s – and Wolderlic – game of “Which one doesn’t belong?” with the stories listed above.

There are only two categories to put them into: “Bad for Sports” and “Good for Sports.” Only one sits in the latter.

Negotiations in the NFL, (player-demanded) trades in the NBA and Pujols pondering free agency – those are obviously negative, at least to fans. No one wants to hear pro athletes or owners complain about their sorry state of being in the upper 1 percent of our country’s upper class.

Throw those out.

Recruiting violations are never good and no one is a fan of seeing DUIs.

So, I’m sure you can guess where that leaves the BYU story.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I know much about the Mormon church or about what it must be like to go to BYU. And, honestly, I don’t care much for the school’s rules it gives to its students; I know I wouldn’t have ever considered going to a school with that strict of guidelines.

Yet, every single student who enrolls in Provo, Utah, knows exactly what they’re getting into when they sign up. Davies, a kid from that very town, is no different.

One of the best things that playing sports teaches us as kids – and, yes, college athletes are definitely still kids – is to be accountable for our actions in life. That can be making simple mistakes in games or making large ones when no one else is around. You learn that every decision you make has repercussions, not just for you, but for your entire team.

That’s what Davies’ story demonstrates.

Sure, I don’t agree with their rules, and I’m sure the vast majority of you don’t.

But that’s not the point.

Rules are rules, and coaches and schools put them in place for a reason. If you didn’t like them, you shouldn’t have signed up to play.

BYU showed that it would rather stick to what it feels is right – regardless of who agrees with it – than have a sure-fire shot at being a No. 1 seed for the NCAA tournament. The school would rather teach its students and athletes how to be men instead of how to win at all costs.

Really, it would be nice if more schools followed – not so much in making incredibly strict rules but in having the conviction to enforce the ones already in place.

Sports Illustrated published a report this week highlighting the ridiculous amount of arrests of players in top football programs around the country. The numbers are staggering.

Wouldn’t it be nice if integrity was held in higher regard than the dollars earned by winning? Wouldn’t it be great if we could look at coaches and school administrations and know they have the athletes’ best interests in mind, not just on the field but in life? Wouldn’t it make us all feel a lot better to know that if your kid plays a college sport, they’re treated like men and women and not pieces of a product the schools are trying to sell?

If that were the case, we wouldn’t need any more soap boxes; we could all be comfortable standing on our own two feet.

Bryce Evans will try to throw out the soap box for the next column.

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