In 1924, British runner and devout Christian Eric Liddell missed an opportunity at an Olympic gold medal by refusing to run in a 100-meter qualifying heat in the Paris Olympic Games on a Sunday. His adherence to his faith cost him a chance at immediate glory but was immortalized over 50 years later in the movie Chariots of Fire.
Time will tell if a similar ending awaits the 2011-2012 Beren Academy boys’ basketball team.
The Beren Academy Stars boys’ basketball team will forfeit an opportunity to play for a TAPPS state championship because they will not play a state semifinal game this Friday night, during a period that is considered the traditional Jewish Sabbath day.
The Robert M. Beren Academy is an orthodox Jewish school in southwest Houston near the Westbury area. In observance of their Jewish faith, they do not schedule games or play from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays.
Similar to its public-school counterpart, the University Interscholastic League (UIL), the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) schedules its state tournament semifinals and finals for Fridays and Saturdays.
According to a report by the Houston Chronicle, the school appealed to TAPPS to reschedule their Class 2A state semifinal game from 9 p.m. this Friday to an earlier time in the day but the appeal was denied.
That effectively ended Beren’s season and opened the door for Our Lady of the Hills from Kerrville to play Dallas Covenant on Friday night, in spite of the fact that Beren defeated OLOTH, 69-42, at noon last Friday in the quarterfinal round.
By all accounts, the school was advised by TAPPS that such a conflict could occur when it was accepted into the organization.
The Chronicle story, reported by Angel Verdejo, referred to an email from TAPPS executive athletic director Edd Burleson to Beren head coach Chris Cole.
“You agreed at the time that this could be a problem for your school, however, the school leadership wished to pursue membership in TAPPS,” the Chronicle quoted Burleson as stating in the email. “With this understanding, the Board approved Beren Academy for membership.”
Although rare, such forfeiture is not unprecedented. As recently as 2010, a pair of schools on opposite ends of the country made similar choices in deference to their faiths.
Northwest Yeshiva, a small Orthodox Jewish high school in Washington forfeited a girls’ state tournament basketball game instead of breaking a Jewish fast before Purim in February 2010.
Just a few weeks later, in April 2010, the St. Benedict’s Prep boys’ basketball team from the Catholic school in Newark, New Jersey, bowed out of the ESPN Rise National Invitational tournament because the tournament dates included Good Friday.
It is unclear how TAPPS will officially record the final season record for Beren, but following the win over Our Lady of the Hills on Friday, the team’s record was 23-5 on the season.
The Stars were the No. 2 TAPPS 2A team in the most recent MaxPreps rankings, behind Abilene Christian. They averaged 65 points per game while allowing opponents an average of 48.5 per game. They finished first in TAPPS District 7-2A, ahead of Northeast Christian, Bryan Brazos Christian, Conroe Covenant Christian and Huntsville Alpha Omega Academy.
Dallas Covenant, the Stars’ scheduled semifinal opponent, enters the state semifinal round with a 24-8 record following their quarterfinal-round win over Texoma Christian, 54-40.