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.
[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):
18.104.22.168 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.