DALLAS (CN) – On the eve of a high school basketball championship slated for this weekend, a Texas athletic association agreed to reschedule for Orthodox Jewish players who filed suit to avoid forfeiting because of the Sabbath.
The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools had scheduled a state basketball championship tournament to take place on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, 2012, in the Mansfield Independent School District.
One of the schools that made it to semifinals, the Houston-based Robert M. Beren Academy, said its orthodox Jewish players could not play because of the Sabbath.
Six players filed a federal complaint Thursday against TAPPS and Mansfield. The school announced within hours that the conference agreed to reschedule.
The game will now take place Friday afternoon.
The players’ complaint said TAPP’s policy of not scheduling basketball games on Sundays deliberately favors the beliefs of Christian religious schools. They also say TAPPS had initially refused to reschedule the game when their opponent, Covenant Christian School of Dallas, had no problem meeting earlier in the day.
“The TAPPS rules expressly provide that game schedules, and specifically playoff game days and times, may be set by mutual agreement of the two competing teams,” the complaint states.
TAPPS allowed the school to reschedule games in earlier rounds of the playoffs that fell on the Sabbath, the players said.
“For example, Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills, agreed to play a game that had originally been scheduled to begin on Friday night, February 24, 2012, at noon on Friday, February 24,” the complaint states. “That game therefore concluded before the Jewish Sabbath began.”
In a written statement, the school thanked TAPPS for “ultimately making the right decision.”
“The school administration and board was not involved in any legal action, and we regret that it took a lawsuit filed by parents to bring about this decision,” the school said. “We are very proud of our basketball team, the Beren Stars. Not only have the boys demonstrated considerable skill on the court this season, but they have also handled the stress of the past week with extraordinary maturity and composure.”
The Jewish Sabbath lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.