By Marci Fifield – September 19, 2020
Anyone who was born and raised in Utah is well aware that we are taught fairly early in life to pick a side. You either choose to root for the University of Utah Utes or for the Brigham Young University Cougars. Red vs. Blue. Youngsters are groomed as early as infancy to become deeply immersed into fandom, more than likely by a family member who already has ties to their respective team.
My father loves BYU football. I, on the other hand, did not give a tiny rat’s butt cheeks about sports, hence I was unaware that the two universities were even rivals. The only thing I knew about football was that I was better off skipping town when the Cougars played and we happened to have access to the television channel it was being broadcasted on. So much yelling....
Fast forward to when I met my husband. The first time I introduced him to my parents he showed up to dinner wearing a University of Utah jacket. Like I said, tiny rat’s butt cheeks, so I didn't even catch on that it might be an issue. Luckily, my dad had mellowed out a great deal by then and saw the humor in the situation. Now here I am married to a U of U graduate and I currently possess a couple Ute shirts, a hoodie and pajama pants.
My in-laws are Ute fans to the death. They purchase season tickets each year and no matter the weather they attend every game. Since I have been to many of these games, I am now a fan of Ute football. I use the term fan lightly because I'm more of a blind follower as a support to my husband.
We've been married 12 years and I think if anyone tried to convince me to become a BYU fan I would laugh in their face. It would take a lot to persuade me to jump ship and show my support elsewhere. That's not to say my husband or I aren't good sports about the rivalry. We admire a lot of BYU players and their talents and we're able to see the faults within the Ute team as well.
So why am I talking about football when I don't even care that much? Because I would like to compare it to our current political situation. Word on the street is that there is a presidential election this November and everywhere I turn someone is discussing it. Anytime I have seen a political post on Facebook or heard a discussion between a Republican and a Democrat, it does not matter how valid a point is made by either side or how strong the case. I have never seen a Republican change their way of thinking. I have also never seen a Democrat change their way of thinking.
Politics to me seems just as sensitive a subject as sports teams. People rarely abandon their loyalties but not only that they never want to admit that their way of thinking may be wrong. Just remember, you will never win an argument when you criticize or demean another person's political views/sports team. From what I have witnessed, there is no need to argue because there is never a winner.
A friend of mine who once ran for office told me about some simple guidelines he uses when having a political discussion with someone. It could apply for any disagreement we have with others, no matter what the topic. Here they are:
1. Assume the best of the person that you are talking with; they love their country, they have compelling reasons for their views, they are "good" people, etc.
2. Keep the discussion on the politics, never let it stray into personal attacks or judgments about your friend or people like them. Diffusing emotions is the key, never escalate.
3. Avoid using gross generalizations; Republicans are not all racists inbred, Democrats are not all socialists, Libertarians aren't all dope-smoking volunteer firefighters, etc.
4. Definitive statements are often anything but, it is better to say, "I feel that ...", or "I think that ..." instead. It will help to keep your friend off of the defensive.
5. It is important to validate what they are saying. An occasional, "You might be right" goes a long way.
6. Lower your expectations, you are unlikely to dramatically change their views through your discussion but hopefully each of you leave the conversation better able to empathize with differing views.