Lawsuit Leads To Rule Change For Religious Students

Webster

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OneNewsNow: Lawsuit Leads To Rule Change For Religious Student


In the face of a lawsuit, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has changed its rules to accommodate a religious student.

Joelle Chung, a high school tennis player, is also a Seventh-Day Adventist who was bounced from a postseason tournament in 2018 because the weekend’s championship match fell on a Saturday.

OneNewsNow reported in an August 15 story that Chung was suing with help from Becket after WIAA cited a “potential conflict” with Saturday church attendance.

In a press release, Becket announced the WIAA had altered its rules to add religous observance, along with injury and illness, as an exception to withdraw from competition without being penalized.

Beckett attorney Joe Davis tells OneNewsNow that the NCAA “routinely” finds a way to accommodate religious exercise, including religious observances of the Sabbath. “The WIAA,” he says, “should find a way to accommodate here too."

Chung, who has now graduated, has said she filed the lawsuit to help her younger brother Joseph, who is also a tennis standout and expected to face the same scheduling conflict. "The government is supposed to do what it can to accommodate religious exercise,” Davis says. “That old rule really did the opposite.”

WIAA, in fact, “went out of its way” to make it difficult for Sabbath observers to participate, he alleges.

The Beckett press release also states the rule change is only a "partial victory" because WIAA will not adjust its 2020 championship schedule.
 

Andrew

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That's some good news for a change!
 

psalms 91

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Yes good news indeed
 

jsimms435

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I'm a little confused about the wording. It says the person can withdraw without having a penalty, but if you withdraw then wouldn't you not be allowed to continue in the tournament? I would think it would be very difficult to be a professional athlete and not play on Saturday (I realize this person is a college player).
 

Lämmchen

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Are they demanding that an entire tournament be rescheduled to fit their personal needs? When they signed up for the team they should have known that Saturdays might be a day when they would need to either skip a game or skip worship. That's their choice.
 

tango

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Are they demanding that an entire tournament be rescheduled to fit their personal needs? When they signed up for the team they should have known that Saturdays might be a day when they would need to either skip a game or skip worship. That's their choice.
This reminds me of the rules I was given when I went to university. They made it clear that the university would attempt to to accommodate specific requirements like this but also made it very clear that no student had any right to exceptional treatment.

It's reasonable to argue that if you don't attend a match on a day you can't attend, whether through illness or religious observance (or any other accept reason), you don't face elimination simply for not showing up. At the same time it's hard to see how you can progress through a tournament if you don't attend the matches. Whether the match falls on the same day as your major surgery or you don't play on the Sabbath, at some point the tournament has to say the player wasn't there and so forfeits the match.

If the tournament is such that the player can realistically enter their other matches that's great. If it's something more like a knockout tournament and you don't show up, your opponent wins by default. Otherwise what happens if matches have to be at the weekend for logistical reasons but one player refuses to play on a Saturday while the other refuses to play on a Sunday?
 
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