Stepping Up Our Game
In sports, you sometimes hear about once-in-a-generation players. Well, effective July 1, 2023, BYU sports has experienced a once-in-a-generation transition, to becoming a member of a power 5 athletic conference, namely the Big 12. I know, you may not be a sports fan. The truth is that I’m not much of one either, which is pathetic because my husband and all five of my kids were college athletes. But hear me out on why this is relevant to all of us in this community.
First a little background: football is the king of college sports, bringing more attention and revenue than any other sport by a long shot, and in college football, membership in a power 5 conference is more than a badge of honor; it brings an additional pathway to elite bowl games and enhances a school’s national profile and recruiting. For decades, cougar fans have awaited this day, and finally it has arrived.
As you know, Provo is a college town, and although we love all our institutions of higher education, BYU is clearly the dominant force, with about 34,000 students and 2400 full-time employees, on a 560-acres campus. And it is much more than an educational center; it provides jobs, culture (think of its museums and performing arts), and countless other benefits to our community.
With membership in a power 5 conference will come new visitors. Fans of teams in the Big 12 are known to travel well, and many of them will be coming to experience a game at LaVell Edwards stadium.
With this influx of guests and exposure, it’s my hope that we will each recognize this as an opportunity to put our best foot forward. In my mind, there is no good reason why Provo shouldn’t secure a reputation as the best place in the nation to attend an away game. The setting of the stadium, flanked by mountains, is spectacular. Our players and fans should display the highest levels of sportsmanship and hospitality. And I would love if we, as residents of this community would even use this as an opportunity to spruce up our yards and otherwise enhance the beauty of our beloved city. It’s like we’ve learned that guests are coming to our home: let’s straighten the pillows and hide the junk!
When you see a visiting fan, even just a gas station, please treat them the way I loved to be treated at away games: with warmth and friendship. In sum, let’s all lean into the excitement of this moment. Let’s use it as an opportunity to feel a shared sense of community pride. And let’s step up our hospitality and friendliness to visitors. Thank you for being a part of this incredible place we get to call home—and for anything you can do to help us capitalize on this opportunity as a community.