I love dancing. From the time I was of “dancing age” I loved to dance. During one of my first semesters of college I went to a dance club in which a person could find a variety of styles of dancing depending on the floor of the building. It was an old restored building in the city and so there were many floors with lots of music and people to dance with. I wandered to the basement to explore and while I can’t remember the music I can remember being disoriented because of the lighting. The lights were bizarre strobing lights and I actually got lost.
I didn’t like it. It was uncomfortable not knowing exactly where I was and the lights interfered with my sense of direction.
I thought about this experience today while thinking about how it wasn’t too long ago when my alma mater, Brigham Young University, was being criticized for what people thought was a questionable and even stupid decision to suspend a key player for an honor code violation. Many felt that the suspension should have waited until after any play-off possibilities.
I wrote about this and BYU’s tradition of honor. I am proud of this tradition and how it is instilled in the student body. I knew that for BYU and the honor code, the sense of honor is more important than being part of The Dance and the Sweet 16. People who haven’t been part of this honor code tradition may not fully understand this. And it’s okay. People who bleed Cougar Blue do. People who made jokes about students violating the code before becoming to campus anyway or whatever they thought might happen, well, they just don’t understand and their ignorance can be forgiven even if it is offensive.
It seems that many people in the world of athletics, academics and even life in general have lost sight of how to find their way. They’re trapped in a basement dancing like I was, with flashing strobe lights that have disoriented them and chopped up the path. Many like it there; it was evident to me when I was there scrambling for the stairs that many did. However, at some point people have to find their way out and that can’t happen when so many lights strobe and interfere with what the right direction is.
I bring this up only because many people didn’t think BYU Basketball would get as far as it has. They thought the team’s season was over because of this player’s suspension. For some reason, many of the critics thought it was BYU who was stuck and lost in the basement instead of the other way around. Those of us who know BYU and know its tradition, however, know that the honor code helps us to find the stairs.
And so, tonight I actually watched a basketball game. A whole basketball game. Up until now I’ve only really watched bits and pieces, maybe highlights or a quarter here and there. But tonight was different. Tonight I watched BYU (#3) beat Gonzaga (#11) by 22 points and enter the biggest dance of their lives, The Sweet 16 — the first time in 30 years.
I could write a lot about vindication towards naysayers or take on the self-righteous “I told you so…” but I will leave this for others; I’m sure there will be some of that. I could also get all “churchy” and try to say that this is BYU’s reward from God for being righteous, but I think that’s pretty much extremist. I don’t think God is interested in NCAA brackets. Instead, I will say that I am proud that BYU kept their word, held their head high and are doing their best.
To be sure, we may not win the championship. We may not get anywhere close to the Final Four. And though it may be disappointing, none of this matters. What matters is that regardless of how far our team goes, they got there the right way.
In a culture in which we are taught to sell ourselves out in order to obtain a goal, or to bend our standards in such a way to accommodate an unacceptable societal viewpoint, I’m proud to dance with a team who hold themselves up and keeps their word. A team that refuses to become disoriented or lost in the relentless strobe lights that seem to be the norm in what is expected. This is a team I will always save a dance for. As BYU Alum, they have my word.