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High school team chooses faith over tournament

Oakwood Adventist Academy opens a new building in August 2020. Facebook/ Oakwood Adventist Academy

High school team chooses faith over tournament

Right before the semifinals of the state tournament, the Mustangs from Oakwood Adventist Academy in Huntsville, Ala., had a choice to make: play on the Sabbath or forfeit the game and end the best basketball season in school’s history. Seventh-day Adventists observe the Sabbath from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, and they were scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 19—about an hour before the Sabbath ended. The team forfeited the game and its chances of the title. 

Couldn’t the schedule change to accommodate them? Although teams playing after sundown on Saturday agreed to switch with the Mustangs, the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) denied the request. Gov. Kay Ivey sent a letter to AHSAA on behalf of the team, saying that the lack of accommodation for religious beliefs is “deeply concerning.” Then she wrote another letter to the team and coaches saying that she is working with the state government and the athletics community so that the situation will not happen again. She invited the players and their coaches to the state Capitol to talk about their experience. 

Dig deeper: Read Steve West’s report in Liberties about employees suing for the right not to work on the Sabbath.

Mary Muncy

Mary Muncy is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. She graduated from World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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