Friday, April 16, 2010

No play on Sunday for BYU

It is not news to most that BYU athletic teams (or even, I suppose, the debating team, if they have one) do not compete on Sundays for religious reasons. It is not especially difficult to control when scheduling regular season contests. Post-season can be a little more tricky. But the NCAA does not allow scheduling that would infringe on a school's religious practices.

But the BYU women's rugby team is a club sport (not governed by NCAA rules) and the women have made it to the national championships which are being held this weekend on Saturday and Sunday. By the time the scheduling issue was realized plane tickets had been purchased by BYU and other teams and it was too late.

So if the BYU women win on Saturday, they cannot play on Sunday. Actually they are not officially affiliated with the school (not sure how that works) so they can play, but being practicing Mormons, they will choose not to.

My reaction to this story is a mix of "live and let live" and "screw you religion--especially corporations disguised as religions that discriminate in the name of a god" philosophies. And I don't really know how to reconcile it all. What is the separation of sport and state and religion? Or rather what are the entangling interests between the entities?
My knee jerk reaction is, "oh well, you have a choice of following a religion and if that religion interferes with a sport then tough luck." But that's pretty much because I have some major issues with the Mormons. But I also have problems with religious prescriptions that, for example, don't allow women to participate in sports at all or minimally. But then I go back to the whole "choice" issue and the fact that religion--no matter how many books or texts or symbols a religion is based on--is all a matter of human interpretation. So I am back to the "well, you chose poorly" And then I remember that free choice is a construction and I am more conflicted.
Needless to say, I am not quite reconciled on this.
It was kind of refreshing, in the world of college sports (though we have to remember this rugby team is a club sport and not varsity which makes a difference) that student-athletes would choose to put something above sport, even if I happen to think that that something is both kind of ridiculous and harmful.
But then I thought about if they win on Saturday, they will forfeit their Sunday match and the team they beat on Saturday is out and there is no competition on Sunday for either the losing team or the winning team. The BYU women know they will not play on Sunday and so they are denying another team a chance to have the experience they themselves are sacrificing. This doesn't seem very Christian-like. It seems very competitive sports-like, but BYU is forgoing that attitude in favor of a Christian one--or so it seems.

Clearly I should not have tackled (hehe) this topic this morning after a week of not blogging and before a healthy dose of caffeine. But that's what I've got this morning.


Anonymous said...

You should do a little homework and research before you go blasting these women for taking an opportunity away from another team.
As the NYT article makes clear: the organizers promised the women from BYU they would not have to play on Sunday. Then, the organizers made the mistake of scheduling them on Sunday.
The blame here clearly lies at the feet of the organizers.

ken said...

The article says that the past scheduler was aware of the BYU policy and scheduled accordingly. That scheduler was not the one who did this year's scheduling.
There are seemingly regrets all around but because nothing can be done about it this year, I was questioning how playing a contest and knowing you will default the next one thus denying another group an opportunity is or is not in accordance with a Christian philosophy.