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Game Off 

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History will remember that when the University of Utah and BYU basketball teams played for the 257th time in December, the final score was 83 for the Utes and 75 for Cougars. History will forget that in the second half of that game, a BYU player was ejected for coldcocking a Utah player, and that that incident would lead, just a few weeks later, to the University of Utah cancelling the scheduled 2016 basketball game against the Y on BYU's home court.

Just seconds after the announcement, many BYU fans began calling Utah fans and their basketball team "a bunch of pansies." And wussies. And cowards. And fraidy cats. And chickens. And all of that because the head coach of the University of Utah men's basketball team, Larry Krystkowiak, said he was suspending the long, historic rivalry because said rivalry had become so heated that he was concerned for his players' safety.

Since that announcement, you'd think there was nothing else going on in Utah. As with nearly every other hot topic in these parts, discussion quickly distilled—negatively—into religious beliefs or drinking. "Go back to your holy handcart you hypocrite wannabes," came the spew from Utah fans to BYU folks, to which they replied, "Well, at least we're not drunks like you retarded mid-level crybabies."

To an outsider, this must have seemed foolish. To long-of-tooth Utahns, it was nothing new—for every tit, there is always a tat in Utahlandia, and another round of finger pointing.

In the midst of it all, Coach K, as he's known in Utedom (Koach Kry to BYU fans), also became a target since he's the one who is credited with calling off next year's game (which can't be fully true since he didn't need to wait three weeks to do it).

BYU fans quickly retorted that Krystkowiak was a jackass player himself as he, too, was ejected at least once for fighting, and that since he played for Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, he should bear more skin and less hypocrisy. Those were the nice comments.

At a press conference on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, Krystkowiak admitted that part of his rationale was that he was indeed once a basketball hot-head and his knowing that was a factor.

Honesty.

He also said he would pay back the $80,000 himself, money due to BYU in lieu of playing the game, which was written into the game contract.

Restitution. Did God transfer to the U?

Yet for that paltry sum, it truly reveals that an education at the University of Utah is for squat because someone should have thought of that sooner. If I had the money, I'd have paid it long ago, but no, I have that University of Utah degree and clear thinking wasn't a requirement for me to get it. I spent $80,000 in the Union Building by the time I graduated, much of it on coffee in the Huddle and who knows how much playing snooker and pinball. I got nothing for that except a very rare run of the pool table—which was not captured on my nonexistent PED, so I can't prove it—and some equally rare replays on Bally's Fireball Pinball Machine, the greatest dinger ever. Coach K at least got the pleasure of giving it to his rival.

Coach K paying out of his own pocket to not play BYU only potentially affects local bartenders, waitresses and sellers of the famous Montana sweetgrass that he burns in pregame, mentally soothing rituals. It will cost the taxpayers nary a cent, which must chagrin certain BYU fans who threw a Hail Mary to the Utah Legislature for intervention. They indignantly said they didn't want their taxes going to a school that was too afraid to play little ole BYU, a non-tax supported school.

It was silly to engage Utah's "get government out of our lives" lawmakers since they've proven since time immemorial that they have no qualms at all about intervening in private enterprise when it suits them. And burning non-Mormons suits them. Like with liquor laws or LGBT rights. However, think about it: When BYU gets money to play Utah—in any sport—isn't that a form of channeling funds (some of it taxpayer driven) to that private, religious institution?

And, if so, why should Utah taxpayers pay for that? Dumb? Hardly—when it comes to Utah and BYU, every argument, no matter whether it is logical or not, makes perfect sense to the person who presents it. It's equally logical for BYU fans to whack me for not making sense to them.

Meanwhile, I believe choosing to skip playing BYU next year didn't happen it in a vacuum. Utah's athletic director Chris Hill says he not only knew about, but supports, the coach's decision.

I also believe that Utah's biggest donors knew. No matter that Coach K is basically gifting 5 percent of his annual salary to BYU (half a tithe), that $80K decision in any other organization could not be made without certain people in the loop. A bank branch manager doesn't say, "Hey, that's a sweet turtleneck ya got, let me give you some money," does he? No.

So, I believe Jon Huntsman Sr. likely knew. Or Spence Eccles. I could be up in the night, but it mostly works that way—the guys who pay the bills want to know what they're paying for. Or they figure out how to get out of the way—something that the BYU men's head basketball coach and the BYU basketball program didn't do when BYU's Nick Emery laid some fist on Ute guard Brandon Taylor and allegedly said, "... and stay fuckin' down, bitch."

It's just a game, right? CW

Send comments to john@cityweekly.net

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