Friday, February 29, 2008

Moot Point

Well, the Jewish ballers lost. :(

But their story is still an important one. A few of you had problems with the link. I don't know what the problem was, but I'm going to repost the story here in its entirety:

Faith first
Religious beliefs may end teams' seasons
John C. Ensslin
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The tall, lanky kids on the Herzl/Rocky Mountain Hebrew Academy basketball team have a lot of faith in one another and in their ability to play.

That much was evident Tuesday night as the Tigers rolled over Belleview Christian School, 68-39, notching their 12th win of the season against two defeats.

Yet with every point they pumped in, the Tigers came a bit closer to a premature end to their memorable season because of their faith.

Their religious beliefs compel them not to play on the Jewish Sabbath between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday.

If the Tigers win again in a semifinal game Thursday, they will play for their district championship Saturday night.

But they will not be able to advance to the CHSAA regional finals because those games are played during the day on Saturday, March 8.

The team learned earlier this month that its request for a schedule accommodation had been turned down by the board of the Colorado High School Activities Association.

The Herzl/RMHA girls basketball team also is facing the same predicament. The team won its quarterfinal game this week and is two wins away from the district championship and the end of its season.

"It's very frustrating," Brandon Zinn, a 17-year-old junior, said Tuesday as the boys team practiced before the game. "It's frustrating to see us work so hard and in the end not see any product.

"It's frustrating because you have no control over it and you didn't do anything wrong except keep your religious faith," he added.

Faith was evident during Tuesday night's game. American and Israeli flags hung side by side in the gymnasium. A sign on the door advised people not to bring any nonkosher food into the gym.

In one corner, a rabbi helped work the snack table, serving hot dogs and hamantashen pastries.

Just before the game, the team huddled together and shouted "Mishpacha!" - the Hebrew word for "family."

Herzl/RMHA was founded seven years ago with the merger of two schools. In 2002, the school joined the activities association.

The boys basketball team has made two prior trips to the district playoffs but lost both times.

This year, however, parents and school officials sensed this season might be special. So in November, they wrote to the CHSAA and asked for some scheduling flexibility.

Two weeks ago the association denied the request.

Once competition reaches the regional level, games have to be scheduled well in advance, said CHSAA Commissioner Bill Reader. Teams have to travel farther and the association has to rent facilities.

The regional tournament for the district that includes Herzl/RMHA is held at Northeastern Community College in Sterling.

"So it gets more and more difficult to accommodate their schedule," Reader said.

Reader said school officials knew this when they joined the association five years ago.

"They should have told the parents that, and the parents should have known that going in," he said.

School officials declined comment on the situation. But several parents at Tuesday night's game said they were upset at the prospect of their kids' team being shut out of the tournament.

"I feel bad for my son," said Debra Friednash, who said her son, Andrew, a 17-year-old senior, has played basketball since he was 8 years old.

"It's just really sad that they won't be able to play."

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