Instead of getting on my Twitter feed and seeing all the negative stuff about the loss, I had like 50 people who’d responded, and it was full of positive posts. —Jimmy Rex
SALT LAKE CITY — Jimmy Rex has let the BYU-Utah rivalry get the best of him.
“I’ve done some stupid things in the rivalry when I was young,” said the real estate developer. “When I was younger and immature, I did some things I regret.”
So when he noticed some particularly nasty Twitter exchanges about Saturday’s game, he decided to make sure a few Twitter trolls didn’t spoil the fun for everyone else.
“To be honest, if you go on Twitter, you think everyone hates each other,” the 35-year-old BYU fan said. “It just kind of bugs me.” He said he listened to a talk by Tony Robbins where he pointed out that it’s easy to be hateful to someone you can’t see.
“One of the reasons why people are so rude online is that you can’t see their faces,” Rex said. “You can’t see their reaction, and so there is no empathy behind anything you say to people online.”
It really moved him.
“You wouldn’t talk to people like this in real life,” he said. “I wanted to throw something out there, to humanize it, to create something a little more positive.”
He decided he could turn the Twitter talk in a positive direction with a friendly wager for Utah fans that would benefit people long after the final whistle.
“Looking for a Utah fan willing to bet me $1,000,” he posted on Twitter. “BYU wins, you pay to Kalani’s charity, Utah wins, I pay to any Utah Charity or Crimson Club?”
At first, it looked like he wouldn’t get any takers.
After 24 hours, his friend Dustin Van Gilder, a business owner from St. George, chimed in, posting that he’d match $1,000 to the winner’s charity, as well.
A few days and a little virtual goading later, a Utah fan, Matt Irvin (@UteDaddy), took the bet.
“I saw his post through a retweet, and I thought it would be a great way to show that the competition among ‘bitter’ rivals can do some good,” he said. “It seems the ugly side of the rivalry generally gets the attention. Not to mention it was an opportunity to hold a rival fan to his rather hefty offer.”
Irvin wasn’t familiar with BYU coach Kalani Sitake’s foundation — More 2 Life — but he read up on it. He asked that if the Utes win, Rex and Van Gilder would send their $1,000 (each) to the Ron McBride Foundation.
“After reading up on Sitake’s More 2 Life foundation, I decided win or lose the best, I’d still like to donate.”
All three men ended up donating to both charities, which means the rivalry helped raise about $4,000 divided between the two charities.
“I had a lot of fun with it,” Jex said. “After the game, we both immediately posted that we paid the charities.” In fact, he said engaging with Irvin that way gave him a completely different perspective after BYU’s 19-13 loss.
“Instead of getting on my Twitter feed and seeing all the negative stuff about the loss, I had like 50 people who’d responded, and it was full of positive posts.”
All three men enjoyed the exchange, as well as supporting great causes.