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Articles > Saturday Playoff Game Schedules Pose Problems For Jewish Day Schools

If there is a Jewish counterpart to the “Grinch who stole Christmas” it might be the high school governing sports associations that have ruled against changing playoff dates to accommodate Jewish day schools.

In one case, the Herzl/Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy boy’s basketball team is on target to reach the Colorado state finals, set for Saturday March 8. The Colorado High School Activities Association (HSAA) rejected the school’s request for a schedule change Jewish School Team Faces Replacement Over Championship on Sabbath).

Members of the Colorado state Senate called the refusal “despicable”, noting that the HSAA refused to schedule any games on Sunday, and ruled that if the Jewish team would not play a replacement team would be given their slot.

In 2004, the Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit sued after the Michigan HSAA similarly rejected a request to accommodate the school's baseball team in its own post-season playoff bid. A judge recently ruled that the students were penalized for their religious beliefs, stating in his decision that the young athletes were forced to miss out on a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” (MHSAA’s Postseason Schedule Penalized Jewish Students).

Writing on the matter of “Coaching and Jewish Values” in the October 2005 Jewish Sports Connection , Yavneh Academy (Dallas, TX) boy’s basketball coach Chad Baruch (who is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for Sport and Jewish Life), noted:

One season, during warm-ups at an away game, a referee informed us that he would not permit our players to wear their kippot while playing. Despite the clear permissibility of the kippot under Texas rules, he stood fast and stated that he would not permit any of our players to wear them. All but one of our players expressed their willingness to play without their kippot, but our coaching staff made the decision not to permit them to do so. Instead we informed the officials that we would forfeit the game rather than compel our players to compromise their religious beliefs in order to play a game. Afterwards, one of our players came over and told me that for the rest of his life, he would remember that the most competitive person that he knew, and a person who was not at all religious, was willing to forfeit a game to protect the religious beliefs of one bench player.

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