He grew up in Provo, where his father was a beloved English professor at BYU for more than 30 years. He was a starter for the 1951 NIT-winning BYU basketball team. He was inducted into the BYU athletic Hall of Fame in 1978. Three of his sons have played basketball for BYU.
However, he doesn't hate Utah and never has. In fact, long before Max Hall declared his hate for everything about the University of Utah, Christensen has been trying to bring some civility to the Utah-BYU rivalry.
Christensen, who also happens to be my uncle, has lived in Salt Lake City for more than 50 years, five minutes away from the U. He is surrounded by Ute fans in his neighborhood. One of his sons played a year for the Utah basketball team and another son is a card-carrying Crimson Club member. He cheers for the U. unless they're playing the Y.
He understands things aren't the same as the old days when he played at Utah's Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse when he heard applause from the U. fans "just as loud" for his BYU team as for the home team. But he also has a much fuller understanding of the rivalry than most and wonders why it can't become more civil.