Ethics: High School Football Practice Changed for Ramadan

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What would you do Wednesday!

In one of the episodes of TLC’s new TV show All-American Muslim a local high school football team changed their practice time for the observance of Ramadan.1 Ramadan is a month of Islamic fasting where “Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex during daylight hours.”2

Today’s scenario is based on the above true story.

Your son’s high school football coach sends notice home with each player that practice is changing for the month of Ramadan. The notice is sent a month before Ramadan begins. Instead of practicing at the usually time immediately after school practice will be moved to the early morning hours.

The coach’s note explains that during Ramadan Muslims can’t eat or drink during daylight hours. Since he and most of the football team are Muslim the coach explained that practicing under such malnourished conditions would not be healthy for those observing Ramadan. He also claims that practice itself be less effective.The players will also be somewhat tired from the workload of their regular school days. Therefore, the new football practice schedule during the month of Ramadan will be as follows.

Monday through Friday from 1o p.m. to 5 a.m.

What would you do?

  • Nothing and let your kid practice with the new schedule.
  • Express disagreement with the coach, but ultimately go along with him.
  • Go the principle and school board if need be to stop the new schedule.
  • File a formal complaint about religious favoritism toward Islam.
  • Or…

___________________

  1. All-American Muslim: Football Practice During Ramadan
  2. Wikipedia. Ramadan
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tagged as , in Church Issues,Culture

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Chris December 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

My son has played high school football for three years. He has never had a seven hour practice (10 p.m. to 5. a.m.). I think that you should change the time frame to reflect a practice schedule that is an equivalent duration to a typical high school practice schedule.

FYI, daylight hours in the fall, usually end around 6:00 p.m. It would be very easy to schedule practices from 6 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. as well.

I would not have a problem with the schedule being changed. When you are on a team, you are expected to sacrifice for the sake of the team (within reason). Knowing how close my son’s team was, I don’t think any of them would have a problem practicing in the early morning hours or evening hours to allow the team to succeed. I also know that my son and several others would use it as a witnessing opportunity as well.

2 MarieP December 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I agree with Chris…and then use the opportunity to argue for the cessation of any Sunday practices.

3 Kyle Owenby December 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I agree the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. practice schedule doesn’t look right. I wouldn’t have a problem for an “after sundown” practice for the team. To be clear, I don’t have kids, I’m only engaged and not married and I teach so I have a more open evening schedule than others. I agree with the previous posters that this would be a wonderful opportunity to argue that three shouldn’t be any Sunday practices. Of course, I’m from a small town and never saw a Sunday practice in my life until I visited my girlfriend-now-fiancée’s family and on our way to church I saw people playing rec. league soccer matches. This, no joke, blew my mind that they were playing an official match on the Lord’s Day. Taking the idea even further, I think that such favorable treatment for Ramadan would allow parents and clergy to argue that student-athletes should be finished with practice on Wednesdays in time for evening church services. There I think one would have a pretty solid case. The results of course depend on what the community, local school board and athletic director think.

4 Doug Hibbard December 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Has the coach:

1. Verified that this practice schedule is acceptable to the state youth athletic association? No reason to go along with it if it leads to ineligibility.

2. Verified and made arrangements with the school, given the adverse impact early AM practices will have on what my kid is in school for in the first place: those goofy classes like math and stuff?

3. Gotten approval and license to drive a school bus to pick up kids, like mine, who are getting to after-school practice because the bus takes them to school and my work schedule allows me to pick them after practice?

All told: the Golden Rule runs this direction: How do you wish to be treated? then treat that way. Not this way: how do you feel like you are being treated? Then respond accordingly. I would want the football team’s structure to respect my Christian religion, thereby I must allow the structure to honor a different religion. If that honoring goes so far as to dishonor Christ, then I have to choose not to participate.

Other thoughts: Is the school board ok with this? Because they are the boss here. Just like players have to make sacrifices to be part of the team, there are things required of the coach. When hired, did the contract stipulate that practice would be after school? If so, then it is his decision whether or not to continue coaching under the contract he agreed to, not his decision to change those rules. If the school board’s policies for football teams specify practice times, then I have the right as a parent to expect the teacher to abide by those rules in the same way the teacher has the right to expect my student to abide by rules.

And Ramadan is: movable. The dates will not always be in the Fall, it will be in late summer pretty soon, so you’d be up against 6 AM sunrise and 9PM Sunset around here. Also, since it’s an all-day fast, the ‘nutrition’ need would push towards the morning practices: the Muslim coaches (and presumably players) would have gone all day without eating/drinking and in the Georgia (or Arkansas) summer, you can’t just jump out and run as the sun dips without spending some serious time rehydrating. You’d have to do mornings.

This one comes back to treating others as you want to be treated. You’re not being asked to participate in Ramadan but to allow others to do so. That’s the cost of a religiously free society.

Now, would I raise a stink when the coach called for practice Easter Sunday? Darn right. But that’s not part of the question as of now.

(And I’m excited that the math problem below is the same as last time. No calculator needed!)

5 David T December 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Changing the schedule per se is not a problem. But like Doug noted, most state high school associations would not permit that long a practice. I also cannot imagine a school system getting on board with replacing the normal sleeping time of a group of students with an activity of any sort. Your scenario is radically flawed, and cannot be seriously addressed as is.

6 gary December 24, 2011 at 3:01 am

Is this a private school? Isn’t is politically incorrect to mix religion and education in public schools? If it were a public school did they celebrate Christmas or Easter?

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