Commentary Magazine


Court Rights Wrong; Puts Jewish Team Back in Texas Tourney

On Tuesday, I discussed the principled decision of the Robert M. Beren Academy, a Jewish Day School in Houston, to forego a chance to win the Texas state parochial and private school basketball championship because their semi-final game was scheduled to be played on Friday night, thereby violating the Sabbath. The team’s willingness to put their religion above sports honored their Orthodox Jewish faith and served as a sterling example to the nation of what religious values really mean.

It is highly unfortunate that the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, which sponsors the state tournament, couldn’t have seen their way to moving up the game’s start to allow it to be completed before sundown on Friday. But a state court has now stepped in to rectify this injustice. After a number of parents of the boys on the Beren Stars team sued the association over its willingness to discriminate against a Jewish school, a judge on Thursday issued a temporary restraining order requiring the group to reschedule the game. In compliance with the judicial fiat, the game will now be played at 2 p.m. on Friday–with Beren on the court.

It’s not clear to us if the suit by the boys’ parents would have prevailed in court. The association is a voluntary organization, and it is possible that they could have argued that, unlike a state institution, they were not complied by law to make reasonable accommodations for Jewish schools. But the legal merits of the case notwithstanding, the judge’s action (which renders the lawsuit moot) has enabled the Texas group to avoid a horrendous mistake. To have effectively excluded a Jewish team from its championship game would have run contrary to the religious values the association’s schools claim to promote.

More in keeping with the spirit of fair play was the reaction of Our Lady of the Hills High School, which would have played in the semifinal game had the original schedule prevailed. Fox News reports the school issued a statement saying they support the scheduling change:

As Beren Academy expressed support for us playing in their stead, we share our support of them in their earned semi-final game,” the statement read. “Good Luck Stars!”

But no matter who wins the championship, it’s clear the real winner in this tournament is a Beren team that stood up for their faith and showed the country there are more important victories to be won than those on the basketball court.