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Carole Mikita Reporting A Little League team from Utah has chosen faith over sport and is facing consequences about that choice. The team is from Santa Clara and refused to play in a regional tournament game on a Sunday. The players, coaches and parents have made that choice before, but it never brought such media attention.
Most Little League teams don't play on Sundays, but recently, the Snow Canyon players from Southern Utah chose not to play a big Western Regional Tournament game in California because it was scheduled on a Sunday. Most of the team members are Latter-day Saints. The coaches and parents allowed the players to make the decision.
Austin Ovard, Snow Canyon Little League team: "I think most people just voted what they felt like."
The other team's coach, from Las Vegas, was fine with rescheduling.
Kyle Frei, Coach: "He was fantastic. He said, 'Hey, we'll reschedule it to any time you want to do it to get the game in,' but they still wouldn't budge on it."
The Santa Clara players forfeited the game and the controversy began. The coach says it was because the food venders got upset. The tournament was in California so the widely-read 'L.A. Times' did the story and then six other newspapers picked it up.
Kyle Frei: "You talk about America, you talk about baseball and apple pie and religion's right in there with it. You know, I thought we'd probably throw a wrench in some people's plans down there and it blew up a lot bigger than I thought."
Zack Frei, Snow Canyon Little League: "It was a little odd and I just think that they could have only called us once and got the facts right."
Most reaction was positive, they say, some was not. But it has only served to make the team stronger.
"We just go with our religion, what we believe and stuff. and if people wanna ask questions, we just let 'em."
Kyle Frei: "I used a quote down there form one of our coaches and I told the guy form the LA Times, I said, 'Baseball's what we do. It's not who we are and we're not gonna change for you.'"
Many Utahns called the tournament to try to persuade officials to change the Sunday game. The director said if they did that for Latter-day Saints, then they'd have to do it for Seventh-day Adventists, etc.
Because they decided not to play, the team had to forfeit, forcing them into last place in the pool. They were unable to qualify for the semifinals.