So last week, I started listening to a new podcast. Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast features three sports reporters and their topic last week was, amongst other things, the Brandon Davies situation (already much discussed elsewhere at BCC). I’d like you to follow the link and listen to the Davis segment before continuing onward; don’t worry, I’m patient.
Okay, are you back? Excellent. What do you think of Mike Pesca’s and Stefan Fatsis’s point that the application of the honor code could be racially motivated? I was, upon first hearing it, aghast. How could they? There is a clear rule and Brandon Davies broke it. The consequences, I assume, aren’t unusual in that situation. Why bring race into it at all?
Well, as one of the two (I can’t tell their voices apart yet) explains, 19 of the last 20 athletes caught in honor code violations have been minority players. Also, to our knowledge, Jim McMahon was never charged with an honor code violation (which just seems wrong). One of the talkers notes that BYU message boards implied that there is the perception of a double standard for athletes at the BYU, when it comes to the Honor Code. Further, there is a perception (on the part of these reporters) that there may be a double standard racially, too.
I’ve spent a bit of time trying to refute the allegations (which I don’t buy), but I’ve got nothing conclusive. It probably is more noticeable when a minority player screws up in the Provo/Orem area simply because it isn’t awash in minorities, but does that demonstrate easy vigilance or easy racism? Pesca and Fatsis are both quick to note Mormonism’s complicated past with racism. Even though BYU has done its best to embrace Bro. Davies, I wonder if this will contribute to its being perceived as a school for and by white folk.
I don’t think that BYU is made up exclusively (or mostly) by racists. Certainly there is a lot of ignorance, but most of it is benign. So, what should the university (or the church) do to combat this misperception? Or, failing that, how should we respond to the perfectly reasonable questions that Pesca and Fatsis bring up?