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.