There has been an uproar recently on where BYU fits into the national ultimate conversation, and what accommodations should be made for a team that cannot compete on Sundays due to religious-based restrictions in place by their university.
Myself, and others, shared some thoughts last week before BYU competed and did quite well at in the men’s division of the Northwest Challenge.
BYU (2/#?): Should the end of the season come around, and BYU have earned the NW a bid, @usaultimate has to work with the regional director— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (3/#?): to ensure that BYU is given a fair shot at taking the bid to Nationals for the NW— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (4/#?): BUT I think that finding a solution that works is going to be extremely difficult.— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (6/#?): to move tournament to fri+sat for BYU is unreasonable for most every other team.— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (7/#?): Perhaps best solution for this year is to give BYU a shot at a bid through Saturday play— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (8/#?): But then you run into the issue of only accommodating BYU, when there are teams across the nation that don't compete...— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (9/#?): ... on Sunday (or at all b/c of this) b/c of religious reasons. I think given the club nature of college ulti, a good solution— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
BYU (10): is going to be difficult to obtain when students can't get out of academic pursuits. For now USAU has to stick to academic>sport— Up Call (@upcallultimate) March 23, 2016
@upcallultimate because once they do it, it can never be undone. All kinds of exceptions could be on the table for the future.— Bama Secs (@bamasecs) March 23, 2016
Apparently USAU is on it, and trying to find a solution that works. I can’t get over the fact that this is just the perfect storm. The Northwest has three total bids to nationals, one automatic bid and two strength, off the backs of Oregon, Washington, and BYU and their season’s results.
In order to get it to really work, USAU would probably need to move the tournament to Friday/Saturday, because if BYU earned a strength bid (and in all likelihood, they will) then they should be given a fair shot to take it. Friday play I think would need to be a necessity, because too many games crammed into Saturday would also have an undesirable effect on tournament play. But with the short turnaround from conferences to regionals, USAU and the regional coordinator would need to do a few things:
Reserve the field site for Friday (most likely, they already have the fields booked for Saturday/Sunday only)
Make sure every team can field the same team as they would have for a Saturday/Sunday tournament for this Friday play. With it being finals-season for colleges, this could be a huge point of contention for making this plan work. But if team XYZ can’t field the same team for Friday, but is also playing games on Friday, than that’s not fair to that team then, is it?
And then of course, it all becomes complicated if BYU actually does place in a position and punches their ticket to Nationals. How much planning would USAU need to do to change the structure of the Nationals tournament to work with BYU? A lot. Is that something that USAU can feasibly do with the field site at this point?
The best course of action I think would be for USAU and the regional director to say, however unfair and unfortunate to BYU, that it’s just not going to work out this season. And then work with the team, other affected schools, the competition committee, and regional directors, about how to change this going forward. Changing this on such a short notice is going to be difficult. Using it as a springboard for change for next season is the best choice.
Before I clicked publish on this piece, Ultiworld broke the news that USAU would not be making accommodations this season for BYU. The presumed bid earned by BYU would stay in the Northwest, but BYU would not be able to participate in regionals if they knowingly cannot finish. USAU encouraged BYU to submit propositions on how to accommodate the team going forward.