Utah Kicker’s Miss in Rivalry Game Destroys His Life
By Ken K. Gourdin
I’m ambivalent about the forthcoming college football matchup between Provo UT’s Brigham Young University Cougars and (one of) my alma mater(s), Salt Lake City’s University of Utah Utes. While my father wasn’t always on good terms with BYU’s sponsoring institution, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—his family saw quite a bit of hypocrisy in members of the Church when and where he grew up, though, now, he’s laid that aside and determined to not let anyone or anything else interfere with his personal relationship with God—since he grew up in Provo’s neighboring city of Orem, BYU was the local team, so that’s who he, his family, and his associates rooted for.
Since my dad is a BYU fan, largely, I have followed suit. BYU was one of the places at which I applied to law school. While, ultimately, he pursued his education elsewhere, BYU lightly recruited my brother as an athlete. On the other hand, BYU didn’t accept me to law school, the University of Utah did, and the rest, as the old saying goes, is history—although that history is still being written.* While I’m stubborn, and while I cannot bring myself to regret my law school experience even though it seems as though most everything that has happened to me occupationally from the moment I graduated has been a calculated attempt to make me regret it, that, of course, is another story for another day; and had I gone elsewhere, it’s not only possible but likely that I would not have graduated. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I still haven’t decided; perhaps I never will.
But, as I said, that’s another story for another day.
As for the rivalry between the two schools? It’s not a war.
In war, people die, are maimed, and suffer long-lasting physical and psychological damage.
Often, war has long-lasting geopolitical consequences, altering international relations for years, for decades, or, perhaps, for generations even.
While I was in law school at BYU’s arch rival, the teams once battled to a 3-3 stalemate in one of the snowstorms for which Utah is famous (or infamous). Given my somewhat-divided loyalties, I thought, somehow, that that was a particularly fitting outcome. I’m pragmatic. For all of the things each school, this state, and each respective city has going for it, I don’t think residents of the state who are fans of either school can afford to be as provincial as they often are.
For example, Los Angeles has the population base and enough other advantages going for it that fans of the University of Southern California can afford, if they wish, to harbor a literal, visceral hatred for fans of their crosstown bitter rival, the University of California at Los Angeles. Utah and fans of either of the aforementioned schools? Not so much. So as much as fans of the rival school might hate to admit it, when either school does well in some way on a national stage, that success benefits the state as a whole and, by extension, both schools.
So what do I do about my somewhat-divided loyalties when the schools play each other? While I realize that this will give fans of both schools an excuse to dismiss me as not a “true” fan, I tend to root for the school that has the most to lose on any given occasion or matchup.
The usually-accurate Ryan Kaneshiro, former kicker for the Utah Utes, missed a chip shot field goal that would have given the Utes the win one year. Salt Lake City’s Deseret News has a feature about how Mr. Kaneshiro’s failure on that occasion utterly destroyed his life, ultimately leading him to take up residence in the fourth cardboard box down the alley on the left, making a living by holding out a tin cup full of thermometers in one hand and another tin cup for loose change in the other. See the sad story here (this and all other links last accessed August 29, 2019): https://www.deseret.com/2019/8/28/20837615/ryan-kaneshiro-utah-kicker-field-goal-byu-utah-game
Consistent with the old adage that says that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, Mr. Kaneshiro takes a perverse pride in his miss, as the Deseret News quotes him thus (ellipses in original):
“It’s kind of cool to be a part of the history, even though it was negative,” he said. “There are a lot of other kickers who participated in that history. And sure, they did their job. But… they’re not mentioned. Because of my miss, my name is still brought up.”
Kudos to Mr. Kaneshiro for maintaining exactly the right perspective on his moment of seeming infamy. In such moments, as much as any given failure might sting, chances are that it won’t matter next week, next month, next year—or maybe as soon as tomorrow, or even five minutes from now.
*I was accepted to two other schools, both of which were out of state, and, while they both offered me modest honors upon entrance in the form of small (compared to the overall tuition cost) scholarships, still, it didn’t make any fiscal sense for me to go elsewhere. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the Blog, as disastrous as my law school misadventure might have been, it could have been far worse (especially from a fiscal standpoint). See here: https://greatgourdini.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/law-school-transparency/.