By Nina Mandell / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
An Orthodox Jewish high school in Texas won’t have to forfeit their playoff game, thanks to a last-minute assist from the courts.
The Beren Academy Stars basketball team was ready to miss out on their shot for a title because their semi-final game was scheduled for a Friday night, which is the Sabbath.
The athletic association, TAPPS, had refused to move the game and the players refused to bend their beliefs.
“Why should we allow one or two or three schools [to\] dictate what we do?” Edd Burleson, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools told washingtonian.com.
But after the story received nationwide attention, the Houston Chronicle reported on Thursday that the Texas Association of Private and Prochial Schools has received a temporary restraining order that would allow the game to be rescheduled so Beren could play.
Burleson said he was making arrangements.
“Unlike many people, TAPPS does follow the law, and we will comply,” he told the Chronicle.
Until what seems to be a miracle ruling Thursday afternoon, the students seemed resigned to the forfeit.
“It just teaches that you can’t always get what you want,” Albert Katz, 16, told the Houston Chronicle.
In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, TAPPS argued the school had known about the possible scheduling conflict since they joined the association in 2009.
“The Robert M. Beren Academy, represented by the athletic director, met with the TAPPS Board on June 12, 2009 to discuss their membership,” the association wrote. “At that time, the Board pointed out that TAPPS schedules its team sports championship on Fridays and Saturdays, which would conflict with Beren’s observation of their Sabbath.
“The Board pointed out that the posted schedule for the state tournament would be followed and no changes made, unless weather-related or similar conditions existed.
“The Athletic Director stated that he understood and did not see that as a problem, since he just wanted their players to have an opportunity to play in a ‘district,’” the statement continued.
On Thursday, the Chronicle reported that some big names including Houston’s mayor, Annise D. Parker, and former Houston Rockets’ coach Jeff Van Gundy came out in support of the team.
The players told Fox News on Wednesday that they were still practicing and hoping a last-minute compromise could be reached – even though the agency’s nine-member board unanimously voted on Tuesday to not move the game.
“We know that every day gets later and later, but we feel like things could be changed,” the team’s coach, Chris Cole, told FoxNews.com. “We operate in a world of sports where things do change – the Daytona 500 was changed, so things are possible. It’s an inconvenience, we know that, but it’s really a matter of desire to want to do it. That’s what it comes down to.”
According to the latest change in luck, it appears Cole may have been right.
The team isn’t the first to run into a similar problem. Sandy Koufax, a left-handed pitcher for the Dodgers, decided not to play in Game One of the 1965 World Series because it fell on the first day of Yom Kippur.
More recently, Tamir Goodman, a standout basketball prep player in Maryland dubbed “The Jewish Jordan” by Sports Illustrated, eschewed playing at more competitive schools, so that he could observe the Sabbath each week.
Goodman told Fox he’s hoping the league can understand the bigger picture before it’s too late.
“The most amazing thing about sports is that it has the power to unite cultures and infuse good into the world,” he said. “Breaking down racial and cultural barriers and teaching great life lessons, that’s what sports are all about, especially at the high school level.”
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