September 24, 2013
As an observer and participant who does not grade "trash talk" on a curve, I have come to view the ever-dwindling competitions between traditional rivals in sports as opportunities lost.
The fact that, as I understand it, Utah and BYU will not be meeting on the gridiron for the next two years and, possibly, well into the future is a total drag! The "Holy War" is, well, holy! With the Heber Valley situated at the top of Provo Canyon and rife with both Mormons and jack-pagans alike, this expanse is fertile ground indeed for one tending fields of the one-liner, put-down variety.
Not that there aren’t Mormons aplenty that don "Red" each year to make all aware of their University of Utah allegiance, or agnostic-humanists, for that matter, that flaunt their Brigham Young University "Blue" every chance they get.
But as far as any scheduled regular-season games being on the horizon, it seems very much like slim pickings from here. Slight chances for maybe a future football hook-up between the schools would more than likely be random post-season meetings at the Las Vegas or Humanitarian Bowls.
Not that last week’s renewal of the biggest annual rivalry game of my youth, the University of Idaho (known in our clan as "Big I") versus Washington State University (formerly referred to, prior to gaining university status, as WSC) proved anything close to pleasing. The Cougars drubbed my Vandals 42 to 0 (zip, zed, zilch, nada!).
Another favorite rivalry that’s gone south, figuratively, is Park City High School’s annual football clash against their longtime adversary and opposite number from Heber, Wasatch High School. For years now, this has been the sole prep pigskin encounter on my autumn agenda.
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And now, due to some sort of regional realignment within the Utah High School Activities Association, the two programs do not automatically find themselves on each other’s fall schedule. This truly cuts to my trash-talk bone! Now I must improvise to come up with barbs aimed at my Park City friends.
The afternoon games in Park City before they put up Friday night lights at Dozier Field and the coinciding timeframe over in Heber when the dairy farm was still firmly in place behind the visitor’s grandstand remains my favorite era.
There was nothing really quite like the fall colors of Park City as seen from the visitor’s sideline back in those days. And the same goes for the olfactory effect bestowed upon Park City fans as the aroma of fresh pure-bovine methane wafted over the back fence and welcomed them to Hebertown.
Now, I must admit that I’m far too lazy and dim-witted to configure the calculus responsible for the schedule change involving future football clashes between Park City and Wasatch High Schools, but, if there aren’t to be any, then I wouldn’t want to know anyway. Obsessive natures need hope even if it’s false.
There were few events in my mostly-humdrum existence back then that brought out slings and arrows quite as readily as the annual Miners versus Wasps home-and-home gridiron rivalry. Not much ever eclipsed, dark-side pleasure-wise, the handing out of verbal grief to my many Park City friends as game time approached. Not that "Jay-bashing" didn’t also quickly become a full-medal sport.
The worst sidebar to the realignment mess is that both Park City and Wasatch are robbed of historic rivalries, none more so than the one with each other, a loss that could take generations to recoup.
Wasatch High has become a de-facto Utah County school while Park City, as a member of the newly created Class 3AA North region, will now be traveling to Bear River, Ben Lomond , Juan Diego , Stansbury , Tooele and Uintah. Hopefully, a few of these schools will have adjoining dairy farms.
Let me put it in terms more easily understood by the average Park City Miner fan. With a newly-assigned competitive landscape that stretches from Tremonton to Orem and Vernal to Tooele, roughly the size of Outer Mongolia, where are you and your designated drivers going to pre- and post-game tailgate? Or is that kind of unfamiliar watering hole exploration the upside to realignment?
But what’s a Wasatch High School football fan like me to do once he’s been transferred to Utah County. I may be speaking out of school here but when was the last time you heard someone say they were heading down to Provo, Spanish Fork, Salem or Springville with a few friends to hoist a few unless, of course, they were planning to toss one back with dinner at La Casita. I’m sure that landscape would be Patron and Negra Medelo rich.
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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