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Forbes: Illinois Will Alter Hoops Finals If Jewish School Advances, Avoiding Texas-Style Religious Conflict

By Bob Cook

“The Illinois High School Association has let Chicagoland Jewish High School know that it doesn’t have to make a federal case out of when its boys basketball team takes the floor for the Class 1A championship. From the Chicago Tribune:

Should the Deerfield school reach the state final, the Illinois High School Association said [Feb. 28] it will move the game, originally scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, March 9, to 8:15 p.m. to accommodate the Jewish Sabbath. As a result, the Class 2A final would be played at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s a unique situation,” Chicagoland Jewish athletic director Joshua Gleicher said. “We knew we had a very good team and a good shot at coming out of regionals, so I tried to be upfront with the IHSA in the event that we made it this far. The IHSA has been very accommodating.”

This is in sharp contract to the case of Beren Academy in Houston, a Jewish school that in 2012 had to get a restraining order so the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools would change its boys basketball finals schedule to accommodate its religious beliefs. TAPPS had previously refused to do so, citing a rule stating any team that can’t follow the postseason schedule “shall remove itself from the playoffs without penalty so that the next highest-ranked team may represent the district in the playoffs.” TAPPS got a lot of grief nationally from people who saw its move as not being about scheduling, but about insensitivity to religions other than Christianity. (Plus, it was noted that TAPPS had had allowed games for Beren and for a Seventh-Day Adventist school to be rescheduled for religious reasons.)

The IHSA, which is made up of public and private schools, and Chicagoland Jewish handled their situation admirably. They knew there might be a conflict coming up, and they worked it out ahead of time, so by the time anyone has to make travel plans, they know what the schedule is going to be by the time everyone has to schlep to Peoria for the finals.

The Tribune article quotes the IHSA as saying it already has a policy in place for these kinds of situations, and have already allowed Chicagoland Jewish to shift a playoff game from Friday night to a post-Sabbath Saturday night. Accommodations also were made for a Jewish school that had advanced in the state wrestling tournament. From the Tribune:

“We had something in place about five or six years, so we were prepared,” IHSA assistant executive director Matt Troha said. “Each year we reach out to teams that might need accommodation due to religious beliefs. We felt we needed to make a decision (Thursday) on the state finals because it affects so many people and teams. It’s the right thing to do.”

If you have a problem with an organization of public schools making changes based on religion, realize that the reason high schools don’t play on Sunday is to accommodate the traditional Christian worship day. So that bending-to-religion ship has long since sailed.”

For full article, click here.

Categories: Athletic News, News, RZJHS in the News

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