Thursday, February 28, 2008

Let The Kids Play

It would be wrong to say that this is anti-semitism. Wrong. Absolutely. Right?

Except that in Colorado, the governing body which oversees the high school basketball championships, the Colorado High School Activities Association, has been unwilling to allow a schedule change in the playoffs. The schedule change was requested by the Herzl/Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy, a Jewish Day School, which is one game away from the Regional Finals. The Regional Finals are scheduled for March 8, during the day. March 8, 2008, is a Saturday.

In the Jewish religion, the sabbath always starts on Friday at sundown and concludes on Saturday at sundown. For observant Jews, there is no question about what happens. There is no work, there is no sports. Many observant Jews will not even turn on lights.

Now, the CHSAA has stated in some press reports that they are unwilling to make a schedule change because they have a by-law which prohibits games from being held on Sunday. Some of these reports have indicated that this rule was to prevent 7-day a week coaching and playing schedules. However, other reports, including one from the AP, have suggested that this was adopted as for religious grounds because the Christian sabbath is Sunday.

Now, if they want to adhere to their rules, and keep the Christian sabbath holy, then it still does not explain why they are unwilling to move the time of the game. All it would take is for the tip off to moved to a reasonable time after sunset. (A quick check of sunset time in Denver area indicates that sunset would be at 6:00 p.m. Assuming that this team is religious enough to do Havdallah at 7:02 p.m.) Why not start the game at ... say... 8:00 p.m. on Saturday night.

The argument against accommodation, put forth in one place by Denver Post columnist Neil Devlin, is essentially this: too bad, you knew it could happen when you signed on. His opinion is that since they Herzl/RMA knew that they might make the playoffs when they agreed to enter the league, they should not be able to get any accommodation. So let's see, the choice is to be a part of the community of teams or not be able to compete at all. Does that make sense?

Either the CHSAA is heartless and uncaring or ... they are something worse. Either way, it seems unreasonable for them to not allow a schedule change that would comply with their by-laws. Of course, maybe they're just afraid of seeing the Herzl/RMA going deeper into the playoffs.

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