The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Closet cougar

By Jason Peterson

The silence is strangling me. It’s time to open the door and come out of the closet — the blue closet.

For nearly three semesters I’ve held my peace — even smiling occasionally with tongue clenched between my teeth — in the face of blatant disdain from my fellow brethren in Provo.

The truth, folks, is that the wool in my closet is dyed navy blue. I am a senior at the U — a sportswriter for the school newspaper, no less — and I feel like a sheep in wolf’s clothing. I’m a full-fledged BYU fan and I battle to survive each day on enemy grounds.

I really can’t tell you how I infiltrated The Daily Utah Chronicle this summer. During the interview process, I was required to fill out a U sports aptitude test which included the question, “Who is the U’s greatest football coach of all time?”

The fact that I answered “LaVell Meyers” should’ve raised a blue flag. Nevertheless, I got the job.

Two months later, my sports editor whipped two items out of his filing cabinet. The first was a stuffed replica of Cosmo the Cougar that had been bloodied and mutilated by all means of torture over the years. I struggled to keep down the Cougar Dog I ate at the halftime of a BYU game the day before. Noticing my blue face, my editor offered the other item to wash it down with — a bottle labeled “John Beck’s tears.”

I had seen enough. Before I could control my temper, I screamed: “Sacrilege!”

It was too late, and the office knew. To this day, I have endured my inevitable share of ridicule and nicknames, the latest being TraYtor J. I had committed institutional infidelity and now I bare not a scarlet, but an indigo Y on my chest.

Allow me to plead my case before the nooses are hung and the guillotine is assembled outside the Union.

I, as well as many others in this valley, am a product of my Cougar-loving upbringing. My parents and uncles practically slapped the blue-tinted lenses over my infant eyes.

When I was three, I was given a blue tricycle. On my fifth Christmas, my parents gave me a BYU football uniform that I wore to bed — helmet and all.

My family has purchased season tickets to Cougar football every winter since my 14th birthday. Over the years, I’ve been mesmerized (some might say brainwashed) by the likes of Ty Detmer, Steve Sarkisian, Brandon Doman and the legendary John Beck.

When I came home from a mission to Los Angeles, my mother surprised me: “Guess what? I enrolled you at BYU!”

She also had my apartment, my roommates and my fiancée, Brittany from Heritage Halls, picked out. Brit and the BYU experience didn’t last longer than 18 months.

After I transferred to the U, I discovered that not all the myths of Utes are true. The students don’t have horns, nor do they dance around bonfires at night. They don’t even study Marxism.

It’s funny, this phenomenon. The majority of residents in this valley feel they must choose one university — and in some cases, one God — or the other. Fence-sitters are scorned for having no conviction.

Whether we bleed red or blue, we’re more alike than different. Do we not all cheer for the Jazz? Yet each year during rivalry week, we insist on ruthless pranks and name-calling.

“Utah stinks!”

“BYU smells like %$#!”

Although this sounds like a plea to save my Cougar hide the next day I show my face on campus, I ask you one question: Can’t we all just get along?

Heck, I doubt it.

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