Hank Greenberg would be proud. The Beren Academy boys’ basketball team stands to forfeit their semi-final game on Friday because the game is scheduled after the start of the Jewish Sabbath. Beren, an Orthodox Jewish day school in the Houston area, will be knocked out of the championship tournament because the team refuses to violate their religious beliefs by playing on the Sabbath.
It seems that the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), will hold fast to their “rules” which prevent tournaments from being rescheduled. An appeal by Beren to have the game rescheduled was unanimously rejected by the TAPPS’ Board. Could the Board’s vote be construed as anti-semetic, given that Beren is the only Jewish school among the 58 schools in TAPPS. Of the other 57, only 6 are non-Christian. Why would TAPPS’ inflexibility exhibited toward the only Jewish school possibly give rise to questions of anti-Semitism? Perhaps because the
excuses emanating from TAPPS’ Executive Director, Ed Burelson, don’t seem to add up.
Mr. Burelson cites TAPPS’ “long-standing policy not to change the playoffs date — a rule that has been in place since TAPPS’ inception in 1978” — as the reason why Beren’s request for rescheduling their game was denied. There are at least two problems with that answer. First, the policy that Burleson falls back on is apparently not that hard and fast. Just last year, a Seventh Day Adventist school’s soccer semi-final playoff game was rescheduled to avoid a conflict of playing on the Sabbath (which is Saturday for Adventists). Second, the Executive Director — which would be Mr. Burelson — actually has the authority, per TAPPS’ By-Laws, to reschedule games:
“If it appears not to be feasible to hold a contest at the scheduled place or time because of weather, facilities, or other cause (emphasis added), the Director shall determine where, when, or if the contest will be held.” (TAPPS’ By-Laws, Sub-Chapter J — Contests, Section 75 — Rescheduling Contests)
It would appear that Executive Director Burelson, irrespective of the Board’s vote, would have the power to reschedule the Beren basketball game for “other causes.” Some might argue that rescheduling because of one school’s objection to playing on the Sabbath is simply not sufficient to justify the Executive Director acting. Well, how about Mr. Burelson fulfilling his responsibilities, among which are:
“to take such other, further, and reasonable actions that are necessary or desirable under and consistent with . . . the TAPPS Constitution, By-Laws, and Contest Rules”
If the TAPPS’ Board of Directors and Executive Director want to uphold the spirit of their own Constitution, they would do well to reacquint themselves with the purpose found in that document:
“The Purpose of TAPPS is and shall be to organize, to stimulate, to encourage and to promote the academic, athletic and fine arts programs in an effort to foster a spirit of fair play, good fellowship, true sportsmanship and wholesome competition for boys and girls.” (TAPPS’ Constitution)
How much more wholesome can TAPPS get than to encourage its member schools to stay true to their core values and principles, particularly when those values and principles have a religious foundation? And, wouldn’t “fostering a spirit of fair play” and demonstrating “good fellowship” necessitate TAPPS taking reasonable actions to accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of its member schools, even if the school’s religion was Judaism and not Christianity?
In a culture that not only despises people of faith (except if you have a certain other faith associated with the Middle East that is not called Judaism or Christianity), but which seems to celebrate every deviant sports’ figure, wouldn’t it be refreshing to see adults encourage young people to live out wholesome principles, particularly those principles which are rooted in a Judeo-Christian ethic? You would think the answer to that question would be yes, especially if the adults in question were primarily from a Christian background (some even from a Baptist background, which makes this sad given Baptists’ historic advocacy of religious freedom for all groups). But, alas, you would be wrong, at least in the case of TAPPS.
What would happen if one of TAPP’s 51 Christian schools had a championship game scheduled for the Christian Sabbath — Sunday? Would the team forfeit the game rather than violate their principles? Luckily for the non-Jewish schools of TAPPS, they will never have to face that question because no games or activities of any kind are ever scheduled for a Sunday. Sadly, from my own observations, the answer to that question wouldn’t matter anyway. It seems that far too many “Christian” athletes and parents almost always put sports ahead of religious values and principles, even above worship on Sundays. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from our Jewish brethren who demonstrated that some things are more important than playing basketball. This one’s for Hank:
|Came Yom Kippur
A Hank Greenberg Poem
|Author: Edgar Guest ©. Published: 1934. Appeared In: Detroit Free Press|
“Came Yom Kippur — holy fast day world wide over to the Jew,
And Hank Greenberg to his teaching and the old tradition true
Spent the day among his people and he didn’t come to play.
Said Murphy to Mulrooney, ‘We shall lose the game today!
We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat
But he’s true to his religion — and I honor him for that!'”
Came Yom Kippur A Hank Greenberg Poem by Edgar Guest