Athletic Non-Supporter

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Here at BYU, we are very proud of the fact that we have the Most Hated Football Team in the Country. The players have worked long and hard to earn that title, and you can imagine their joy when it was finally bestowed upon them by a Sports Illustrated writer with the last name “Looney,” who has since, I understand, mysteriously disappeared.

When the Cougars recently played at home against the Utah State Acnes, I was unable to attend because 1) I didn’t have any money, and 2) I hate football. Well, I shouldn’t say I hate it, even though I do, but I don’t care much for it. I think this stems from the fact that I don’t understand it. I went to all of my high school football team’s games my senior year, because I had to cover them for the school newspaper, and I would take intricate notes on who threw the ball and who caught it and who scored points and how many times they patted each other on the rear end (as many as 973 times per game, by the way) and what-not, but I never once actually understood what was going on. In order to write my stories for the newspaper, I had to look in the local paper the day after the game and borrow liberally from what their reporter had to say. The weeks when the local newspaper didn’t cover the games were the weeks when I told my editor I couldn’t, either. With those kinds of ethics, I think I’ll go far in journalism

Anyway, I probably would have gone to the BYU/Utah State game anyway, to support my school and all that garbage, but as I mentioned, I didn’t have any money. So I stayed back home at Deseret Towers (the Waldorf-Astoria of BYU) during the game, trying to keep myself entertained. It wasn’t very easy. Deseret Towers isn’t exactly a swingin’, happenin’ place normally, but it’s particularly uninteresting when everyone else who lives there is over at the game. So I sat around my room for a while, studying for my Communications mid-term,

(I would like to point out, for the record, that Communications 101, taught by Dr. Brad Hainsworth, Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., is by far the most enjoyable, least absurd class I have ever taken, and I think the professor has a particularly distinguished-sounding name)

but that got boring after about twelve seconds, so I went down to the Cougar Cove to get some ice cream. The game was being played on the radio at the Cougar Cove, and the employees were all sitting around listening to it, earning their minimum wage as best they could under the circumstances. I feigned interest in who was winning (BYU, oddly enough), got my ice cream, went back to my room, and called my mom. She refused to send me anymore money, though, so I quickly ended the conversation and got back to my ice cream.

BYU eventually won the game, all my friends came back, and we went to see a midnight showing of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” at the University Mall. That alone made up for the boredom I had experienced earlier in the evening, especially the part where the two guys are fighting, and one of them keeps getting his limbs hacked off with the other guy’s sword, until it’s just his head sitting there on the ground. That always cracks me up.

(Eric D. Snider is a freshman at BYU. He lives in Deseret Towers, on the fourth floor of Q-Hall, and is originally from Lake Elsinore, California, where he also liked Monty Python far more than football.)

I'm disturbed at how cynical and unnecessarily mean this column sounds. I rip on the football team, I mock people who work for minimum wage, I imply that I won't even talk to my mother unless she agrees to send me money -- what a jerk I must have seemed like!

I often misunderstood humor in those days. I equated "making fun" with "being funny." Now I see that is not always the case. Being cynical without anything to back it up comes across as just unpleasant. I was happy in those days -- happier than I've been ever since, even -- but my columns, especially this one, must have made me seem so aloof and bitter.

The odd bit in the middle about Dr. Brad Hainsworth has quite a story about it. I shall tell it now.

Prior to coming to BYU, I had written for two years for the Lake Elsinore News, my weekly hometown paper. Now that I had left home, I had worked out a deal with my editor where I would still send columns, sort of reporting on my experiences away at college.

Well, the first BYU column I wrote for the Lake Elsinore News (#83, 9/23/92) was a summary of my classes. In regards to my Communications 101 class, I wrote this:

"As a journalism major, I am required to take Communications 101. This is a class with 250 students in it, taught by a person named 'Dr. Brad Hainsworth.' I put his name in quotation marks because that cannot possibly be his actual name. That sounds more like the kind of name people give their dogs when they (the dogs) are worth hundreds of dollars and their owners want them to have rich-sounding names.

"'Dr. Brad Hainsworth' is actually a pretty amusing teacher, despite his fake name, which is good, since the class is absurd. I've been flipping through the textbook, and the major theme of it seems to be that communications are very important, so important, in fact, that we should be glad we have the textbook, and by all means we should read it. There doesn't appear to be any actual information in the whole book, which is fine with me, and it's probably OK with 'Dr. Brad Hainsworth,' too."

While my Lake Elsinore News columns were generally the same basic material as my Daily Herald columns, I did not write a Herald column to correspond to this one, for obvious reasons. I didn't want Hainsworth to read it!

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was one day sitting in Communications 101 and Hainsworth said, "Well, gang, we made the newspaper." My heart stopped beating. I knew there was no way he could have read the column, and yet at the same time I knew he had.

He read aloud from the column, the way it was printed in the Lake Elsinore News (note the abrupt cuts):

"As a journalism major, I am required to take Communications 101. This is a class with 250 students in it, taught by a person named 'Dr. Brad Hainsworth.' I put his name in quotation marks because that cannot possibly be his actual name. That sounds more like the kind of name people give their dogs when they (the dogs) are worth hundreds of dollars and their owners want them to have rich-sounding names.

"'Dr. Brad Hainsworth' is actually a pretty amusing teacher, despite his fake name, which is good, since the class is absurd."

The class, which really liked Hainsworth (so did I) was appalled. Gasps could be heard. Thankfully, he didn't say my name. I took off my glasses in the hopes that, as students went up after class to look at the clipping, they wouldn't recognize me from the photo.

I was not only horrified that he had somehow gotten the column, but also very upset that my editor had cut out the last sentence, where I explained what I meant by "absurd." He just left it at that -- "The class is absurd"! That's no way to edit!

The mystery of how Hainsworth got a hold of the column was explained a few days later, when my mom sent a clipping from the Lake Elsinore News. It was a letter from someone I'd sort of known from church forever, Clema Bingham, a seemingly sweet old lady. The jist of it was that she had always despised my childish writing for the News, but that this was the last straw. She did not say she was sending a copy of the column to Hainsworth, but that's obviously what she had done.

I called my mom, and she said Clema Bingham had called the house, wanting to know if my parents had read the column. They hadn't yet, and so she tried to read it to my dad over the phone, but he didn't like being read to. They eventually read it, and my mom now expressed mild concern to me. Actually, it was more of an urging that I be careful in how I represented BYU and the church. I've always taken more to criticism from my mom than anyone else, so I said I'd be careful with my Lake Elsinore News columns.

The newspaper went out of business a few weeks later anyway, so I didn't have to watch my step much longer.

A post-script: I got a C+ in Hainsworth's class, and I richly deserved it. Unfortunately, I had to get at least a B- in order to be accepted into the journalism program, which means I had to take the class again after my mission. And guess who my teacher was -- Dr. Brad Hainsworth. I got a B+ this time, and I even got up the guts to ask Hainsworth if he remembered the column. He had only vague recollections, but he finally remembered it, and he said he wasn't at all offended by it. That was a relief.

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