Saturday, March 3, 2012

Taking the "manship" out of Texas high school sports and then putting it back in!

Update Sunday, March 4: Beren Academy lost to Abilene Christian in the finals of the TAPPS 2A high school basketball tournament 46-42.

Is losing a high school basketball playoff game by a voluntary forfeit in the spirit of the game?

In other words just how far will a school, a coach and the players go, or not go, to win.

Texas basketball and the Jewish Sabbath

This story involves the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools' (TAPPS) 2A tournament and a team from an Orthodox Jewish school, Beren Academy, scheduled to play a semifinal game on Friday night at 9PM.

For those unfamiliar with Orthodox Jewish law it is simply not allowed to play a basketball game after sundown on Friday or before sundown on Saturday, the Sabbath.

The coach of the rival team, Dallas Covenant, was willing to reschedule in order to accommodate the religious beliefs of Beren Academy but the 9-member board of TAPPS turned the request down unanimously.
The temptation at this point might be to ask if a team not of the Jewish faith but some other faith had been prohibited from playing the game due to religious doctrine, what the vote of the TAPPS board might have been, In the spirit of sportsmanship, however, I will refrain.

Should a team that earns a spot in a semifinal game have the opportunity to play taken away due to inflexibility and rigidness in the decision-making process? Could this instead have been a teachable moment for the TAPPS board?

Clearly this decision shows the surgical removal of the "manship" from the most basic premise of sports which is that it's the playing of the game that should produce the winner and not an arbitrary decision by some exogenous body.

The refusal by Beren Academy to play during the Sabbath does provide an example of a larger life's lesson being passed on to a team, a school and a community, which is that in fact there are more important things in life than a game.

Epilogue: In the true spirit of the game (and pending legal action) the TAPPS board relented and the semifinal game went off at 3PM Friday afternoon. Beren Academy won and will play in the league championship game at 8PM Saturday, one-hour after the Jewish Sabbath is over.

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