He Got Dismissed for What?!?

In high school (many, many years ago) I played both football and basketball. The summer before my senior year, a group of my friends and I were very serious about having a successful football season. We were in the weight room every day, on the field every day. We even had a special diet that was said to build muscle and gain weight. (Can you believe it, I dieted to GAIN weight!)

As part of this “all-in” effort, a club was formed; a fraternity of sorts. Its goal was get everyone to buy into the idea of “team” and self-sacrifice, commitment, honor and dedication. A “charter” was even created with a “president” and “advisors” and rules with consequences.

We were called the “AKB”. The name was born during a pep talk from one of our old-school coaches. Something he said sparked all of us. We loved it. We wanted to embody it. However, it is PG-13 so I won’t share the entire name here. (Think fired up coach trying to motivate his football team. Email me your guesses) Symbolic of our commitment to each other, we screen-printed AKB shirts.  I still have my shirt. It is tattered and worn but I can still squeeze into it. (Suck it in, Troy!)

From the original charter (a piece of notebook paper written in black ink) here are a few of the commitments or “codes”.

“1-Keep nose clean.”  This meant no drinking, smoking or anything else within the typical high school rules.

“Consequences: Shirt will be shredded, then burned. Permanent expulsion from the club”

“2- Wear shirt when told.

Consequences: One game suspension, 2nd time – you’re history dude.

  • Shirts will be worn every Friday to school underneath the jersey, then also underneath shoulder pads and half-shirt during all games, including the scrimmage.”

A lot of importance was placed on that shirt and the wearing of it on game days.  Kind of silly, right? Would we really burn a shirt if it wasn’t worn properly? This was serious stuff to juniors and seniors. In fact, there wasn’t much that was more important. And yes, we would have burned the shirt; in a second. Not because it was a silly rule or because others didn’t understand why we had to wear the dumb shirt. It was burned because the commitment was broken. And the commitment was “gospel”.

In a small way, it is like what we see today with BYU’s star forward, Brandon Davies. He was dismissed from the BYU’s nationally ranked basketball team when it was reported that he broke BYU’s honor code; a code that all of his fellow team mates agreed to and keep. The reactions across the sports world have been varied from respect to bewilderment.  Comments ranging from “He got kicked out for that?” to “the honor code is ridiculous.” have been spoken, written, texted, blogged, tweeted and FaceBooked.

Regardless if you think the reasons are silly, if you think BYU’s honor code is archaic and unrealistic, Brandon broke his commitment to his school, his team mates and his faith.  And for BYU to stick to its principles (even if you think those principles are nuts) shows the entire world that BYU is not about basketball, rankings or championships. BYU is about commitment, honor and faith.

Outsiders may not understand, after all, on many college campuses, Brandon’s alleged behavior would be celebrated. They don’t have to understand. All they need to know is that Brandon made a commitment, he broke it, and there are real consequences.

I feel horrible for Brandon. By all accounts, he is a great kid and certainly a wonderfully talented basketball player who made a mistake, he broke his commitment.  I feel horrible for his family.  I feel horrible for his coaches and team mates. I am confident that he will be a better man for having faced up to the mistake and gone through this experience.

Of course, this is not the first time an athlete has been dismissed from BYU for not honoring their commitments. It is part of the fabric of a faith-based school. With this strict code, some wonder how BYU could ever recruit the “athleticism” necessary for a championship in the big sports.  Many believe BYU’s recruiting obstacles are just too big to create long lasting, championship quality programs. I disagree. However, if BYU’s honor code and beliefs ultimately close the door on ever having championship quality teams, I’m good with it. I want good teams. I want championship teams but WITHIN the BYU system.

That is one reason I love both Coach Bronco Mendenhall (football) and Coach Dave Rose (basketball). They don’t build programs in spite of the honor code or even LDS mission concerns. They build programs that embrace them and make them BYU’s strengths.

We may never know the total cost of Brandon’s dismissal. It may have cost BYU the championship or at least a final-four run. Then again, adversity has a way of bringing the best out of a team.

I’m a proud, passionate BYU sports fan. I’m even more proud of Brigham Young University. And if anyone asks, the last Turkey Bowl I played in, I wore my AKB shirt under my jersey. A promise is a promise.

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12 Responses to He Got Dismissed for What?!?

  1. Marti says:

    My feeling on this is: he knew about the honor code when he decided to attend BYU, he signed the honor code, and he broke the honor code – knowing the consequences. Period. I am not even LDS, but I get this. I have to respect BYU for standing by their principles and following through. I feel terrible for Davies, as well. It is a sad situation. Oh, and my guess is: A_ _ Kicking Boys? 🙂

  2. Marti says:

    Pwahahaha. I got it then. That was my first guess, but I was trying to keep is “somewhat” clean. LOL.

  3. Lori Johnson says:

    Love finding your blog…I so agree with what you have said..A promise is a promise! Oh …and I know where another AKB members shirt is located right now.

  4. Dianne Chelson says:

    Thanks for expressing what many of us are thinking!

  5. Rick Platts says:

    Amen!! Thanks for a great read!!

  6. Ben says:

    Stumbled onto your blog through a serious of Twitter links. Just wanted to add my comment that I completely agree with your post. It’s heart-wrenching for Brandon and the team (and, to a lesser but still meaningful degree, us fans), but it’s absolutely the right thing to do. Silver lining: I’ve gotten emails, texts, Facebook comments, etc from all over the country from non-LDS friends asking about BYU, the Honor Code, our commitments, etc. Great generator of discussion!

    Thanks for the post.

  7. Troy says:

    Thanks for your comments Ben and Rick.

  8. Nancy Jones says:

    I wrote about this on my blog, too, kind of the same take on it. There were actually several mainstream media outlets (not a ton, but several) that did applaud not just BYU but Davies as well.

    • Troy says:

      It was/is a very popular topic and I’m happy that most media defended both Davies’ and BYU’s positions. Thanks for the comment.

  9. Pingback: What is really right about sports « "The Things of My Soul"

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