School Sports: When Religion Makes it Tough to Play Ball

I was an athlete all through school. I played soccer and basketball for all four years of high school and all four years of college. We played a lot of parochial schools in our league. They would pray before games and again afterwards. We also played Orthodox Jewish schools and had to plan our games around Jewish holidays. I don’t ever remember there being any conflict about the fact that we were playing religiously oriented teams so I was rather surprised to read about the recent controversy in Texas.


Promotional Image for Iman Academy in Texas

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Iman Academy, an Islamic school in Texas with 500 students, was hoping to join the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), an organization that manages competition among hundreds of schools in the state. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised that a traditionally Christian organization was less than thrilled at Iman Academy’s interest in membership. But I can’t see how athletic association between schools has anything whatsoever to do with religion.

TAPPS has a history of religious intolerance. Recently the school refused to reschedule a game against an Orthodox Jewish team. The game fell on the Sabbath. Negative publicity and legal pressure shamed TAPPS into acquiescing but their stance on non-Christian religious observance is clear: non-Christian holidays simply aren’t as important as Christian holidays and don’t need to be respected.


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