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January 6, 2013 5:48 pm
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CEO of USA Table Tennis: Possible to Accommodate Estee Ackerman’s Shabbat Schedule in Future

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Table tennis star Estee Ackerman. Photo: lillyttc.

The case of an 11-year-old ping pong phenom who sat out her final match at the 2012 U.S. National Table Tennis Championships has received much attention in the press in the past week, but it remains to be seen if she will face the same scheduling issue in the future.

Estee Ackerman told the New York Post she didn’t play the match because it fell on a Friday night, which is when she observes Shabbat. She was forced to forfeit.

Mike Cavanaugh, the CEO of USA Table Tennis, told The Algemeiner in an email that this was a unique case, and any similar concerns in the future would be the responsibility of both the organizers and the athlete.

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“The athlete would need to enter events that are sure to end within the time frame available to that person and perhaps the athlete should make it known in advance to the schedulers if there is a chance that there might be a timing or scheduling issue.”

Some 800 players participated in the five-day event in Las Vegas. Cavanaugh said it was simply impossible to adjust the scheduling from a logistical standpoint with such short notice. For her part Ackerman said she does not blame event organizers for the scheduling conflict.

Cavanaugh noted that he is not involved in the organization of the event.  Those individuals who were did not respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

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  • Mel

    How many observant Muslims were scheduled for Friday play?
    How many devout Christians were scheduled for Sunday play?

    • Robert Palgon

      FYI, the tournament was held from Tuesday to Saturday, December 18-22, 2012.

      There were 65 separate events, ranging from age-related, to gender-related, to rating-related categories each of whose starting day and starting times were scheduled and published in October in the entry form for the tournament, which did not ask about religious affiliation or potential Sabbath conflicts.

      I do not know how many others, Muslims or Jews ran into a similar conflict. But with this experience, and the knowledge that Estee is probably planning to compete in the National Championships held annually in December, hopefully the USATT can take Estee’s situation into account and see what steps they can take to accommodate people in her situation.

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