cycling utah June 2000


Sunday racing sparks much debate in district

By David R. Ward


It is with interest that I follow debates cropping up in cyberspace on the USCF-District 40 e-mail list. Bicycle racers, and particularly road racers, tend to be a communicative lot, often quick to launch comments and complaints. Still, discussion is good, and there is no lack of it.

The primary debate this last month concerned the scheduling of races on Sunday. What precipitated this debate was the scheduling of both the East Canyon Road Race and the Showdown at Five Mile Pass mountain bike race on Saturday, May 6. This led to complaints of double scheduling, thus dividing the racing numbers and precluding participation in both events by those so interested.

The proposition was put forth that this is a poor practice given the limited number of active racers in our region. Good point. The suggestion was made that when two events are scheduled for the same weekend, one should be on Saturday and the other on Sunday.

One response to this was that scheduling between these two cycling disciplines should be coordinated, with racing on Sunday to be avoided. That was followed by another e-mail that the State Road Race, scheduled for Sunday, June 11, may result in a failure to crown a true champion because it would exclude participation of those who do not race on Sundays for religious reasons. And let's not be shy. Because of the predominance of the LDS (Mormon) Church in Utah, we are talking primarily about its members who also like to race bicycles.

These were followed by a couple of at best insensitive comments aimed at those who would like most, if not all, racing scheduled on Saturdays. One e-mailer even made the inane suggestion that failure to schedule racing on Sunday violated the constitutional separation of church and state. Get real. This same e-mailer made it clear that these were exactly the type of reasons he relocated from Utah. Many would agree that he made the right choice, believing that if one does not like the setting, he should move on.

To be fair, two of the participants in this discussion later apologized for the insensitivity of their comments, recognizing that this is a more complicated issue than had been evidenced through the e-mail exchanges. Indeed, this type of discussion is often nothing more than on-line talk radio.

Still, this is a real issue in our region. In examining it, two primary considerations must have place. First, it is simply a fact that LDS members predominate in this area. It must be recognized that for practicing LDS church members as well as those of other faiths, attending church and avoiding races on Sundays is going to be a moral imperative. To wish it were different, to ignore this fact, or to be caustic or sarcastic about it does little good. Nor does it serve any purpose to debate or attack the relative merits of those holding these beliefs. Such discussion is unlikely to change anything.

This cuts two ways. Racers who like larger numbers may have difficulty having those numbers at races scheduled on Sundays. Conversely, for those who will not participate on Sundays, just remember that this is your priority and choice. If an event is scheduled on Sundays, do not whine or complain. After all, it is of lesser importance to you.

The second consideration is the promoter. Heaven knows that good promoters are few and far between. Those of us who for years have been involved with cycling have watched promoters come and go. People like Ed Chauner and Del Brown, who hang in for years, are a rare commodity

Promoters are most likely going to want as many numbers as possible. Given the marginal nature of our sport in this area, entry fees are necessary to help cover expenses. And sponsors are going to want to see numbers if they invest money. To exclude a potentially significant number of riders is nothing more for a promoter than acting against his or her own best interests.

Those who want Sunday events have the complete right to try to convince present and would be promoters to schedule on Sundays. If they can, so be it, but they must recognize the potential negative impact it may have on growth and participation in cycling. Meanwhile, for those who will not race on Sundays, let promoters know your position with your comments, presence and dollars. And when events are held on Sunday, just remember that it is you who have chosen your priorities.

So what is the best solution? Well, realize first that there is no ideal solution. Accommodating conflicting interests will always involve compromise. Frankly, the best suggestion, and one admittedly tailored to our region, was proposed early on: Coordinate mountain and road bike schedules as much as possible, and try to avoid Sunday events.

Racing is fun. It is, for most, just a hobby, albeit an intense and addicting one. And because it is a hobby, most of us do have higher priorities that will at times conflict. Lets not be critical. Rather lets do all we can to make it an enjoyable experience for as many as possible.

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