BYU Women’s Rugby Team Eliminated from Playoffs by BYU

The Brigham Young University women’s rugby team is complaining.

They are a highly-ranked team that could go far in the postseason. This weekend is the quarterfinal matches — the top 16 teams will play each other in 8 games, with teams playing today and tomorrow.

Even if the BYU team wins, though, they say this is the end of the line because their religion sees Sunday as a day of rest:

[Team captain Kirsten] Siebach said all 35 team members are practicing Mormons, and because USA Rugby scheduled that round on Sunday, the team has decided to forfeit if it wins its game Saturday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“We’re obviously just very frustrated,” said Siebach, a senior. “We don’t want to put USA Rugby in a bad light, but at the same time we feel like we’ve been treated wrongly.”

I feel bad for them. I really do. It sucks to work hard all season and have to cut your entire season prematurely.

But they haven’t been treated wrongly.

The decision not to play in the next game is entirely their own. They’re the ones who decided that Sunday is a special day for them.

To be fair, the NCAA does accommodate certain athletes whose religious beliefs demand special treatment.

Look at the current NCAA Div I Manual (PDF):

31.1.4.1 Institutional Policy. If a participating institution has a written policy against competition on a particular day for religious reasons, it shall submit its written policy to the governing sports committee on or before September 1 of each academic year in order for it or one of its student-athletes to be excused from competing on that day. The championship schedule shall be adjusted to accommodate that institution, and such adjustment shall not require its team or an individual competitor to compete prior to the time originally scheduled.

This is unofficially known as the “BYU Rule.” It really only affects BYU and Campbell University (a Baptist-affiliated school in NC).

This rule has a long history — it was in effect for years, then eliminated, then reinstated.

But Women’s Rugby isn’t an NCAA-sanctioned sport — it’s run by USA Rugby — so the rule doesn’t apply in this case.

In the past, USA Rugby scheduled games on Friday/Saturday (for whatever reason), but after the staffer in change of scheduling left last year, the games were changed to Saturday/Sunday.

Like I said, that’s unfortunate.

But no one’s stopping the BYU team from winning a championship other than their own university and the beliefs the team members volunteered to accept.

The rest of the world shouldn’t have to come to a halt just because some people choose to take a day off.

  • Carlie

    Shouldn’t they feel fantastic about it? After all, it isn’t really a sacrifice for Jesus if there’s nothing to sacrifice, right? They should be grateful to USA Rugby for giving them such a large platform to show off how much they love God and how much they’re willing to give up for him.

    Unless, that is, they think that they should be handed everything they want, and that sacrifice for Jesus means that other people sacrifice for them instead.

  • http://whoreofalltheearth.blogspot.com Whore of All the Earth

    Oh, but being true to your beliefs is more important than worldly titles, especially if you get to garner publicity martyr points.

    I think it’s arrogant to expect the entire USA Rugby organization to adjust because of the beliefs of one or two teams. And is God really so rigid that he’d hold it over these women for breaking the Sabbath one time?

  • fritzy

    “We’re obviously just very frustrated,” said Siebach, a senior. “We don’t want to put USA Rugby in a bad light, but at the same time we feel like we’ve been treated wrongly.”

    Another point to support the quote that “everything before the word ‘but’ is bullshit.”

    If they have a problem with it, why don’t they take it up with god? he’s the one that implemented this seemingly arbitrary rule in the first place.

    So much for personal responsibility. But I guess it’s easier and more satisfying for a person to blame an organization for not bending to fit the lifestyle they have choosen for themselves.

  • muggle

    Pretty soon schools will be so busy accommodating all religions that there will be no school. Between the Christians and the Jews alone there will be no weekend games unless they’re played between sundown Saturday night and midnight since the Jewish sabbath begins at sundown Friday night and ends sundown Saturday and the Chrisian one begins at the stroke of midnight Sunday.

    This is kind of like the pharmacists who won’t dispense sinful drugs. If it’s against your religion, don’t join up to begin with. God obviously didn’t mean for you to be a rugby player.

    And the irony of it’s being the woman’s team putting up the fuss. Aren’t they suppose to be submissive anyway?

  • Jen

    Isn’t it better to have games on Saturday and Sunday so the students aren’t missing class? That is, really, the most important part of school. And most rugby players, for the record, are not the shrinking violets that Mormon girls should be.

  • L.Long

    I feel they should also give me special consideration. I’m a bad player but it is against my religion to practice, so they should accommodate me and just give me a trophy!!

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    How do they even know that Sunday is Sunday? Might not someone have lost count a few thousand years back and might Sunday really be Monday? Quite frankly I’m surprised such religious people use days of the week named after the “wrong gods” anyway.

  • Rational

    According to my religion women’s rugby has to be played wearing burkas and without bodily contact. Infringing infidels will be beheaded.

  • Shannon

    I feel bad for the team who’ll win if this happens. Winning from forfeit doesn’t have the same feel to it. All that work *they* did all season and they win just because the other team didn’t want to play.

  • ImJustSaying

    Curious whether this gets published or deleted, but it’s amazing to see this kind of tolerance from atheists. Preconceived notions appear to be more important than actual progress.

    Tongue in cheek comments like “aren’t they supposed to be submissive anyway” and “rugby players, for the record, are not the shrinking violets that Mormon girls should be,” sound so bitter.

    Let me guess. If the Mormons decided that to kill the women’s rugby team, then you’d complain about them suppressing and degrading the role and capabilities of women in society. But because they *do* have a rugby team, then they’re being hypocrites against your preconceived notions.

    Nice.

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to applaud them for progress rather than setting up a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of perception and reaction?

  • JT

    Can someone who might have read the kooky book of mormon tell me why they have the day of rest on Sunday anyway? If it’s based on when god rested after creating the universe, shouldn’t it be on Saturday, as the Jews practice? Pretty sure Christians only started using Sunday to differentiate themselves from the Jews. No theological reasoning whatsoever. Did America Jesus, or whatever insane things they believe, set things straight and change it to Sunday?

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    Interestingly enough, Mormons play NBA basketball and NFL football.

  • http://www.dwasifar.com dwasifar

    Am I the only one who had to click through to the links to find out what “BYU” stands for?

  • Tizzle

    I might think that ultimately it would be a better world without religion, but for now: this is something that falls under “reasonable accommodation”. –Okay that’s a phrase from the Americans with Disabilities Act, but I think it fits in more than one way.

    In spite of making fun, I do think they should have been accommodated. If the NCAA can, surely the rugby (who knew it existed?) organization can.

  • beckster

    @ollie – Well you see, NBA and NFL players such as Steve Young who are Mormon make millions and guess who gets a 10% tithe of those millions. . . . The Mormon church is all about the benjamins. If those young women were being paid big bucks to play rugby, the rule would likely be waived for them too.

  • Chal

    Let me guess. If the Mormons decided that to kill the women’s rugby team, then you’d complain about them suppressing and degrading the role and capabilities of women in society. But because they *do* have a rugby team, then they’re being hypocrites against your preconceived notions.

    Nice.

    Wouldn’t it be more productive to applaud them for progress rather than setting up a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” type of perception and reaction?

    “Applaud them for progress”? for having a women’s rugby team? That’s not progress, that’s the status quo. The mockery is coming from the inconsistent application of religious rules.

    It’s not a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t,” situation. They could play on Sunday like every other team, and everything would be shiny.

  • LordPillsbury

    Just to let you know that the LDS observe Saturday as the Sabbath in Israel. In the New Testament, there are several references to the Lord’s Day as the first day of the week, Sunday, and that Christ’s followers often gathered on this day to brake bread, meaning take the sacrament, communion or the symbolic Last Supper. Christians from the time of Christ have practiced the Sabbath on Sunday and that has also followed to this time in history, hence, Sunday is observed as the Sabbath for the LDS.
    Players like Steve Young and other professional athletes make their own decision as to whether they will play on Sunday’s. Steve obviously decided that he would. Members of the LDS faith also work for employers, including hospitals, police, fire crews in which they are compelled to work on Sunday’s. What you don’t hear is athletes who spurn professional careers because they don’t want to work on the Sabbath, like my brother, and chose to work elsewhere. The church does not tell us what our careers will be. The church does not force us to pay tithes.
    These ladies could have played, this team is not officially sponsored by BYU. They on a personal level decided not to. Are they raving mad? NO! Are they disappointed? YES! In the past, the tournament had accommodated them. This year, because of a scheduling oversight, they were not. They simply expressed their frustration of that. You all make it sound if they are a bunch of poor sports, kicking and screaming that they are victims! Not so… I for one am proud that they stood by their convictions despite the obvious disappointment. If this was BYU football for the National Championship, where lots of money is to be made, you would find that they also would forfeit.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com Spanish Inquisitor

    I thought this whole “Sunday we rest” thing had to do with work, not play. I didn’t realize that Sundays were for self induced semi-comas.

    I mean, other than during football season.

  • beckster

    @LordPillsbury – In order to obtain your temple recommend and actually participate in the sacraments of the Mormon church, you must be a full-tithe paying member. I believe it is question #9 on the temple recommend interview. So essentially, you are forced to pay your tithes if you want full membership. Next time you go in for your temple recommend, tell them you decided to stop paying your tithe and see if you still get your card.

  • muggle

    I’mJustSaying, it’s hardly progressive if they can’t play on Sunday! I’m not damning them for doing; they still aren’t.

    Tizzle, reasonable accommodation was made available but had a deadline they neglected to make. The deadline was for the very realistic need to set the schedules. If they had complied, the game would have been scheduled otherwise. Because they didn’t avail themselves of it in a timely manner, the games weren’t scheduled with it in mine. How in blazes are the powers that be supposed to pre-arrange something they don’t know about? What’s reasonable is for them to assume no accommodation was required since no application for such was submitted.

    It’s not reasonable accommodation they’re now looking for, it’s special accommodation.

  • http://www.eurovisionamerica.com Michael (SQFreak)

    I remember from my days in college mock trial that Bob Jones University wouldn’t compete on Sundays. They were rather good at mock trial, too. If I remember right, the national tournaments were all Saturday/Sunday, so they could never accept a bid to national tournaments. This was good for my (Presbyterian) college and anyone else in the AMTA-assigned region because under the rules at that time, the bid would drop down to the next highest team that didn’t get a bid. (The rules have since changed.)

    As a North Carolinian who’s somewhat familiar with Campbell, I’m actually quite surprised that Campbell has exercised that rule. I don’t really view them as more religious than Wake Forest University. Although I’ve recently heard differently. Last night the Triangle Atheists had a meetup, and I talked to a person who’s a pharmacy student at Campbell. He said he’s seen Bible verses injected randomly into PowerPoint presentations and one of his anatomy and physiology professors suggested that creationism might be a viable alternative to evolution.

  • Gibbon

    This doesn’t seem like anything new, as they aren’t the first to turn down playing their sport on a Sunday for religious reason. That legendary All Blacks openside flanker, The Iceman Michael Jones, refused to play rugby on Sundays for the same reason, he wasn’t a Mormon though. It resulted in him playing only 55 of the 90 tests the All Blacks played during his career, and it also meant that he missed out on a few Rugby World Cup test matches.

    Besides that, the majority of rugby games, particularly at the international level, tend to be played on Saturdays.

  • fritzy

    Lordpillsbury:

    “This year, because of a scheduling oversight, they were not. They simply expressed their frustration of that.”

    Not so:

    “We’re obviously just very frustrated,” said Siebach, a senior. “We don’t want to put USA Rugby in a bad light, but at the same time we feel like we’ve been treated wrongly.”

    They have every right to feel disappointed and frustrated. No one here is arguing that. But when they start saying they are being treated wrongly, they cross over into the victim realm. As you said, (and Hemant said in his comments on this article) these women made this choice. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

    “You all make it sound if they are a bunch of poor sports, kicking and screaming that they are victims!”

    No, THEY are making it sound that way. We all have choices to make. And after that we all learn to live with the concequences of those choices. As you said, they had a choice to make between playing and going with their personal convictions. They chose the latter. So be it. But no one should whine about being “treated wrongly” and expect to be taken seriously when they have a choice in the matter–choices made based on religious beliefs are no exception.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    Ha, what a bunch of idiots. If they’d rather forfeit than participate in their chosen sport then it is a win for their opponents. The Mormon players don’t gain anything from this. The Mormon cult doesn’t gain anything from this. Religion in generally doesn’t gain anything from this.

    Maybe they should recruit some atheist players.

  • Latter-day Saint

    I believe in hearing, and learning from, all sides. When I saw the number of atheists weighing in on the misfortune of the BYU Women’s Rugby team, I thought that I would see what you had to say.

    My conclusion? I am sorry for all of you. There is a great bitterness and sadness in what I read on your web site.

    Is prejudice so strong with atheists that they cannot simply admire someone for standing for their principles, especially when that stand comes at great personal cost? Or is disdain too important as an article of anti-faith?

    You don’t have to believe as I do, but do try to believe in something besides negative energy. These girls worked hard and sacrificed an opportunity to stand for their principles. That should earn your respect, not your derision.

    “We need men [and women] with moral courage to speak and write their real thoughts, and to stand by their convictions, even to the very death.”
    ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

  • Chal

    Umm, no. Standing up for a stupid principle is not admirable. Playing the victim afterward even less so.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    These girls worked hard and sacrificed an opportunity to stand for their principles. That should earn your respect, not your derision.No, they worked hard to reach the quarterfinals and they are throwing that hard work away to follow a silly rule. That is not something that deserves respect.

  • Honor

    “Kristin Richeimer, director of membership relations at USA Rugby, said an oversight was responsible for the scheduling. In the past, the BYU men’s and women’s club teams had been placed in pools that competed on Fridays and Saturdays” (http://www.jsonline.com/sports/91137584.html). Have you ever had a sense to do something for someone and not done it? Have you ever thought to let someone merge in traffic, but didn’t; or hold a door for someone but didn’t; or call mom/dad/sibling just to talk, but didn’t, let someone with fewer items go in front of you in line while you had many more items, but didn’t? You get it. If you can say “no” to this question, then we have nothing to discuss. This is my point, if you have actually had a sense and did what you felt to do, then you had to sacrifice something. You had to honor your basic instinct to help. If you betray this sense/feeling/instinct you betray yourself. If you betray yourself you have to justify yourself and that opens a door for a bunch of self-lies that we convince ourselves are right–we make the wrong look right. There is a moral imperative (ethical sense) that lies in each of us–every one of us. The source of this sense/instinct is up for argument, but no matter, when it is betrayed you, me, everyone feels a ting of guilt (call it whatever you want) that says, in essence, “you shouldn’t have done that.” No living breathing, mentally capable person can deny this honorably. These women carry a logical moral sense (self-proclaimed, imposed, learned, or whatever) and they chose to honor that sense. They are people like you are people. You have a moral sense they don’t deride. Your calumny only harms you who seeks to justify prejudice–as if it’s the right thing to do–to mock, malign, or have malice. Betraying this basic sense is to betray yourself, it is to dishonor yourself and others. Because these women chose to honor their basic sense to do something for another (in this case it would be their God)–as you honor what you worship (your car, home, girlfriend, boyfriend, TV, football, etc.). As you honor your sense, it is right to honor them for following theirs. You may choose to dishonor a good person making a personal choice, and I honor that. BTW: I understand that Steve Young and other Mormon athletes are given special permission to do their sacred rituals on Saturdays, such as sacraments, etc. They may not keep the Sabbath day holy like they teach, but they honor their beliefs. Now, you can jump all over what I just said about Steve Young and seek more ways to justify yourself and vilify the Mormons and call them hypocrites. Get the point. See people as people, honor their basic humanity, after all, we are all people and if we were side by side in a foxhole needing protection I would protect you as I hope you would protect me and I wouldn’t be crying foul about your belief system. That’s what America was built upon–the liberty to be different and to honor those differences, belief systems, etc.

  • remcycle

    Please get over yourselves. These girls were not mandated by anyone to do anything. They had purchased non-refundable tickets before the mix up was discovered. Together as a team they made there own choice according to what was important to them. So please stop whining because everybody in the world does not think like you. How boring would that be?

  • flanker

    Excuse me “friendly athiest,” I am on the team and you are so arrogant. We go to a private school to practice our religion. Just because you don’t have a God doesn’t mean that you have to bash everyone who has something to stand for. You will never understand how painful it is to have a national title inches away and have to make the hardest decision of your life to give it up because you actually BELIEVE in something. Oh and by the way it’s not just “some people choosing to take the day off.” There are millions, no billions, of religions that take a day to rest. To the rest of you, it’s not a silly principle. It’s our lifestyle. You wouldn’t mock a Jew for refusing to compete if he or she were forced to eat food that wasn’t kosher, would you? We aren’t “playing the victim” either. We are only working harder this year. We have something to believe in and standing by it we are not “whining.” YES we were frustrated. Wouldn’t you be? Say what you want, but despite your bitter, angry rants you are nothing to us. If by the grace of GOD you ever have to make a hard decision on the national stage, we won’t be criticizing you. We’ll be too busy winning a national championship.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X