With so much riding on tonight’s basketball game, Bulldog fans might be expected to raise a few derisive howls against conference rival Brigham Young University, but a Gonzaga University business class has taken upon itself the task of toning down remarks targeting Mormons.
“We’re known for cheering against other teams, but we don’t need to bring it to a level that involves discrimination,” said Jordyn Pillatzke, a student in GU’s Hate Studies in Business class. “Making fun of the Mormons and their values – it’s something that doesn’t need to take place on the basketball court.”
After the last GU-BYU matchup earlier this month, an event that ended in a Zags loss, there were “some very negative remarks about Mormons and the Mormon faith” posted on the Twitter account @gonzagaproblems, said Molly Pepper, assistant professor of management and one of four instructors teaching the Hate Studies class.
The remarks about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Pepper said, run counter to the commitment to respect for everyone that Gonzaga University, a Catholic institution, stands for.
Pepper recalled that one of her students said, “Maybe this is a super-dorky idea, but couldn’t we start a Facebook page called ‘Take the Hate Out of Hoops’?”
That student was Hannah Drabinski.
“Well, we started out making a Facebook page and sending it out to all our friends on Facebook and encouraging them to take the pledge, which basically means to be self-aware and not use any forms of discrimination,” Drabinski said.
After about 500 people “liked” the Facebook page, the class decided to make posters and ordered 2,000 wristbands, which are apparently on a UPS truck somewhere in Spokane.
Of course, not everybody appreciates the “Take the Hate Out of Hoops” movement. Of particular note is the rival “Wear Missionary Gear to the BYU Game” Facebook page created by three male Zag fans. Judging from the sparse number of comments on their page, nobody “likes” them anyway.
Attempts to contact the “Wear Missionary Gear to the BYU Game” creators went unanswered late Wednesday.
Drabinski said college sports are such a competitive environment that many people think “anything goes.”
But she and other Hate Studies students think comments about Mormons abstaining from alcohol and premarital sex are going too far.
So the students are going to the McCarthey Athletic Center early tonight to hand out the wristbands that bear their motto, “Take the Hate Out of Hoops,” with hopes that their civility-in-sports movement takes root – in the West Coast Conference, at least.
“We really think this is a widespread thing, and so we want to start here at Gonzaga but have a ripple effect throughout the conference and maybe throughout all of sports,” Drabinski said.