FanDuel - WFBC

August 17, 2010

Michigan High School Practices at Midnight for Ramadan: A Dearborn, Mich., high school football team is holding preseason practices in the middle of the night to help its Muslim players observe Ramadan without daylight eating or drinking. The Fordson High team is predominantly Muslim. "It feels really great," said player Adnan Restum, who has been fasting since he was about 10. "If we're doing it during the day, we wouldn't have water and it would be really hot and everything."

posted by rcade to football at 01:07 PM - 88 comments

That's great. Maybe they can adopt other Muslim traditions like have a public stoning of gays and adulterors. Burkas for the cheerleaders. I suppose the team can begin the game with a prayer facing Mecca and just do away with the National Anthem. No pulled pork sandwiches at the tail gate festivities.

What is this country coming to. I have no problem with people practicing their religion in their own homes and places of worship, but when a public school starts catering to religion on this level, it clearly violates a clear separation between church and state.

To me this is a symptom of political correctness gone wild and Muslim reluctance to fully assimilate into American society. While I do not question their right to practice as they wish, it is required by Sharia Law that when Muslims make up enough of the population it is their religious duty to require all to live under this law. It seems in one area of Michigan they have reached that number and are imposing their practices on the community. The writing is on the wall.

By virtue of population shifts the world is heading in a very dangerous direction.. Our freedom and western way of life is in danger.

posted by Atheist at 02:53 PM on August 17

By virtue of population shifts the world is heading in a very dangerous direction

Agreed. Let's not forget how this country got ruined in the first place:

We need to stop anyone who doesn't look & think like us from adjusting the consistency of the melting pot. In addition, anyone caught giving comfort to the enemy by adjusting the time of a football practice should be drawn and quartered and their remains thrown upon our city walls as a warning to Outsiders.

posted by yerfatma at 03:06 PM on August 17

In a little bit more serious vein (though I can't promise I won't start yelling and swearing): these kids are playing football. How the hell more American could you want them to be? You're bitching about adjusting the time of a practice for kids who want to play football but might not otherwise be able to participate? Way to tilt at the correct windmills.

Not that I'd recommend touching a windmill: they're for those panty-waist liberal Left Coasters who want to give this country away to the enemy.

posted by yerfatma at 03:08 PM on August 17

Regardless of Atheist's jingoistic and ridiculous reasons for opposing this, I question whether it is constitutional for a public school to schedule football practices from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. for a Muslim holiday. That's an exceptional disruption to a school environment, considering normal sleep schedules and their impact on learning.

Fordson is a public school that has a responsibility to all students, not just the predominant Muslim majority. If Muslim parents want their kids to be able to practice on a schedule that accommodates Ramadan fasting, they should send them to private schools.

posted by rcade at 03:08 PM on August 17

What is this country coming to. I have no problem with people practicing their religion in their own homes and places of worship, but when a public school starts catering to religion on this level, it clearly violates a clear separation between church and state.

I suppose they should stop giving time off for Ramadan when it is during the school year then. As long as separation of church and state is preserved it doesn't matter that the school loses thousands of dollars when the majority of the student body doesn't show up in observance of a religious holiday.

That's an exceptional disruption to a school environment, considering normal sleep schedules and their impact on learning.

It is a good thing Michigan schools don't start until after Labor Day, which means Ramadan extends only to a few days of the school year. I doubt these practices will be messing with these kids summer sleep schedules.

Fordson is a public school that has a responsibility to all students, not just the predominant Muslim majority. If Muslim parents want their kids to be able to practice on a schedule that accommodates Ramadan fasting, they should send them to private school

According to its wikipedia page, 95% of the students at Fordson are of Arab ancestry. I see no reason why Fordson can't accommodate the majority of their student body. Perhaps if the minority doesn't like it they can send their kids to private school.

By virtue of population shifts the world is heading in a very dangerous direction.. Our freedom and western way of life is in danger.

One small community in Metro Detroit is threatening the very fabric of American society? You can't be serious.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 03:28 PM on August 17

What do you suppose they do for Christmas and Easter, rcade?

posted by NoMich at 03:29 PM on August 17

I cosign on YYM's entire post.

posted by bperk at 03:49 PM on August 17

YYM - you should really investigate what is happening in countries where the Muslim population exceeds certain percentages.

Although one community in Metro Detroit is hardly a threat to the very fabric of American life, take a look at countries where those population numbers are higher. Or on another tack, reverse the situation, look at countries where Muslims are the majority and see what kind of tolerance there is for accommodating non Islamic religious customs or lifestyles. I really do think there is already a huge threat in the world to the western lifestyle that has started with a certain brand of religious fundamentalism. It is spreading through Europe.

As far as the fact that the school is predominately Muslim, this should have little or no effect on a public school policy. The rights of the few are constitutionally protected against the will of the majority. I wonder how many non Muslim students have left the area for other schools as the population of the area shifted. Do non Muslim students like having to practice in the middle of the night to accommodate a growing Muslim majority. Should Southern California schools or Arizona schools switch to Spanish in many districts because there is a Spanish speaking majority of students both legal and illegal? As soon as your neighborhood school's population reaches a certain threshold of non English speaking students or Islamic students, does their majority mean they can then impose their will on the remaining English speaking minority for language, cultural and or behavioral changes? If enough Islamic immigrants come to specific areas of the United States, can they use a majority to impose a new way of life on those already here?

The United States did not become the melting pot of the world because of immigrants that refused to assimilate into American society. You can't have a melting pot if people don't melt together but instead choose to create their own country within a country. This is the case with many European countries where Muslim populations have grown to substantial percentages. Also in countries where the population is already a Muslim majority, the entire government shifts to Islamic Law by doctrine.

I could care less what time a school in Michigan chooses to hold football practice but keeping religion out of schools and other government run entities is part of what the separation of religion is all about. I sincerely believe that our own inability to mitigate political correctness with enforcing our laws will be the downfall of the United States as we know it. Currently in Arizona, the people of the state cannot enforce already existing immigration laws due to a political agenda that is circumventing the enforcement those laws because of political correctness.

posted by Atheist at 04:55 PM on August 17

Muslim reluctance to fully assimilate into American society

Though I have zero issue with what the Dearborn Michigan football team is doing or the accommodations the school is making for Ramadan, I do find the assimilation issue to be a very real one.

Ross Douthat's op-ed piece in the NY Times in regards to the Community Center/Mosque in downtown Manhattan provides an interesting perspective.

posted by cjets at 05:26 PM on August 17

I have no problem with people practicing their religion in their own homes and places of worship, but when a public school starts catering to religion on this level, it clearly violates a clear separation between church and state.

How is the separation of church and state violated? It allows the practice to be held at a different time than religious observance. It's not stopping the practice in order to pray - the football practice (the government sponsored activity) is separated from the daytime fasting and calls to prayer (the religious activities) of Ramadan.

Our freedom and western way of life is in danger.

I disagree, but not especially in the way that YYM so clearly made his points. Our freedom to practice our religion (whatever that religion may be) in a peaceful manner, without the majority or the state dictating or suppressing ones belief, is a fundamental tenet of America. Religious freedom is a reason for people to come to the U.S. since the Mass. Bay Colony to this very day. As for the "western way of life", it's an ever evolving entity. Every group adds something, or puts a different twist on being American. As yerfatma bluntly stated, "these kids are playing football. How the hell more American could you want them to be?"

posted by MrNix67 at 05:29 PM on August 17

I almost passed on this thread due to how heated these "not really about sports" threads have become (I've been as involved with them as anyone), however, let me make one point.

It really doesn't matter that 95% of a group is Muslim, the PUBLIC school has no business promoting that religion. And, yes, that is what they are doing. By catering to a specific religion they are helping to promote knowledge of, and adherence to, that religion.

From a very well recognized handbook on how schools should handle religious issues: It is accepted that no religious belief or nonbelief should be promoted by the school
district or its employees

That handbook was written with input from Islamic Center of North America.

Side note: Ramadan is a part of Sharia Law...do we really want to start picking which sections of Sharia we're okay with?

posted by dviking at 05:32 PM on August 17

Or on another tack, reverse the situation, look at countries where Muslims are the majority and see what kind of tolerance there is for accommodating non Islamic religious customs or lifestyles.

After looking at Turkey, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, and Azerbaijan it is evident that there is a wide amount of tolerance. Astonishingly, these countries protect and guarantee freedom of religion.

I really do think there is already a huge threat in the world to the western lifestyle that has started with a certain brand of religious fundamentalism.

Religious fundamentalism originates from all parts of the globe and isn't constricted to Muslim countries. It is funny how quickly the events of September 11th made people forget men like this and organizations like these. In fact, I would recommend checking out Robert Pape's book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism.

As far as the fact that the school is predominately Muslim, this should have little or no effect on a public school policy. The rights of the few are constitutionally protected against the will of the majority.

Having the practices during the day would put a great number of kids at risk. There have been numerous cases of kids who have died during summer practices, kids who were almost certainly not fasting. This isn't simply catering to religious practices, this is a logical move that ensures the safety of the football players.

Also in countries where the population is already a Muslim majority, the entire government shifts to Islamic Law by doctrine.

This is very far from the truth. There are many countries with Muslim majorities that are secular.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 05:35 PM on August 17

How is the separation of church and state violated?

By changing it's schedule from the norm (don't try to tell me that 11PM to 4:00 AM is the norm), they are promoting a certain religion. They are helping, supporting, fostering, etc., that religion.

Our freedom to practice our religion (whatever that religion may be) in a peaceful manner without the majority or the state dictating or suppressing ones belief

Which side are you on??? The majority is dictating in this case.

posted by dviking at 05:41 PM on August 17

As far as the fact that the school is predominately Muslim, this should have little or no effect on a public school policy. The rights of the few are constitutionally protected against the will of the majority.

If there are calls to prayer in the school, that's one thing that can't be allowed. But to structure the school schedule to comply with the religious practices of the overwhelming majority - that's why school is closed on Christmas or Good Friday - makes practical sense.

Or on another tack, reverse the situation, look at countries where Muslims are the majority and see what kind of tolerance there is for accommodating non Islamic religious customs or lifestyles.

Agreed, the tolerance of other religions, in many majority Muslim nations is horrible. But is the answer to be just as xenophobic and compromise what we stand for in response to that?

posted by MrNix67 at 05:45 PM on August 17

Having lived in Egypt for a few years, I can tell you what life in a country with a 90% Muslim population is like. For openers, I went to church on Friday, since this was he Muslim holy day and my only day off. To me, this was a "so what", the important thing was getting to church on a regular basis, and the day of the week didn't count. Of course, there were people who were assigned by the Egyptian Government to attend our church (Church of England) to make sure that there were no anti-government shenanigans. I can also tell you that there were more than 100 young Sudanese men living in the undercroft of the church. These Christian men were fleeing the persecution imposed on Christians in the South Sudan by the majority Muslim north. The Egyptian Government gave them asylum, but they were not allowed to work.

As far as accommodation to Christian holidays went, it was at the discretion of one's employer. I worked for the Egyptian Army at the time, and our local commander gave us the day off at Christmas, but not Easter. We did get all of the Muslim holidays off from work. Ramadan was certainly a different time. Most of the army officers would use the fasting as an excuse to sleep all day and party all night. We would go into work in the morning, and most days we were told to go home before noon. The Egyptians always complained when Ramadan happened during the summer, as the days were long and the nights short.

To make a long story short, there was nothing close to the religious tolerance which one enjoys in the US and most other developed nations. Should there have been? That's not for me to say; we can only lead by example.

Since the school district in question is majority Muslim, I see very little problem in their scheduling of their events. I do wonder what could happen during the school day when Ramadan is during the school year. Would the school district schedule classes after dark? It could create a pretty bad logistics problem in the scheduling of school buses, cafeteria workers, teachers, and the like. The non-Muslim minority might not like to adapt, and if so, could the state or county school administrators arrange a transfer, temporary or permanent, to another school for those who would wish to do so? Understanding and accommodation should be the operative words here, just as they should by by both sides in the NYC mosque controversy.

Thus endeth the epistle

posted by Howard_T at 05:46 PM on August 17

So, YYM, if I get your drift from your last post, because Timothy McVeigh was a sick, twisted soul, that somehow makes Muslims better???

Clearly not all Muslims are horrible people, and clearly not all Christians are good people.

I think what has most people concerned about the rapid spread of Islam is the radical portion that dictates strict adherence to Sharia Law, and all that it means. Surely, you wouldn't want that here. Feel free to correct me if in fact you are open to 100% Sharia Law.

This isn't simply catering to religious practices, this is a logical move that ensures the safety of the football players.

It is catering to religious practices as there are plenty of ways to ensure the safety of football players practicing during the day. They are not doing this for the safety of the players. Is it safer for the boys to be driving home from practice at 4:00 AM as opposed to during daylight hours? That's not really my point, just showing that this move was to accommodate a particular religion, not for the safety of the players.

posted by dviking at 05:50 PM on August 17

What do you suppose they do for Christmas and Easter, rcade?

The winter break covers holidays of several religions. Christmas also is celebrated by millions of Americans who are not religious. This, on the other hand, is a special accommodation for a single religion. Football teams don't practice at 3 a.m. Students aren't kept up for school functions at that time of night. It is absurd to suggest that this is primarily a health issue.

As for Easter, spring break falls all over the calendar from early March to late April across the U.S. It is not officially linked to a holiday.

According to its wikipedia page, 95% of the students at Fordson are of Arab ancestry. I see no reason why Fordson can't accommodate the majority of their student body. Perhaps if the minority doesn't like it they can send their kids to private school.

School prayer and graduation prayer are acceptable to the majority too. There are plenty of school districts where non-Christian students are a minuscule percentage. Would you suggest that Muslim parents in rural Alabama send their kids to private schools if they don't like Christian prayer in their public high school?

The First Amendment's Establishment Clause protects the rights of minorities to not have other religions imposed on them. The non-Muslim students at Fordson should not have to practice football at 3 in the morning because of a religious holiday they don't observe.

The left has made a lot of enemies over the years by fighting for the principle that religion is a private matter not to be sanctioned, endorsed or organized by public schools. As a secularist, I think the country is better off because we did. I don't see how anyone could be against school prayer while supporting this.

posted by rcade at 05:50 PM on August 17

You guys are lovely and nuts. A high school football teams does something to accommodate it's players and it's the breaking of the seventh seal. Sometimes, I think America's most successful export is manipulative paranoia.

I mean, I'm from Toronto. There are Muslims a plenty. I have no idea where you get any of this from. Ramadan means as much here as Passover. Those that observe, observe. Some accommodations are made - York University for instance - which has a higher Jewish student body - is closed during some of the Jewish holy days. Even the Christians and Muslims get the day off. Other schools do not. I have never seen a problem with this.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:56 PM on August 17

Or on another tack, reverse the situation, look at countries where Muslims are the majority and see what kind of tolerance there is for accommodating non Islamic religious customs or lifestyles.

I hate this argument. The United States lives under our Constitution. What other countries do in their form of government -- or in the case of many Muslim countries, under tyrants -- is immaterial.

posted by rcade at 05:57 PM on August 17

Never mind...rcade batted my post down before I even hit "Post"...

But I will add this...I would like to see what the intersection is of people opposed to this school changing it's football practice schedule to accommodate the majority, and the people that scream "they're attacking Christmas!!!" every December...

posted by MeatSaber at 05:59 PM on August 17

I do wonder what could happen during the school day when Ramadan is during the school year. Would the school district schedule classes after dark?

I believe most of the Dearborn schools have days off on Eid ul-Fitr and maybe other days during Ramadan. As a result they have to go longer in the summer.

So, YYM, if I get your drift from your last post, because Timothy McVeigh was a sick, twisted soul, that somehow makes Muslims better???

No. Timothy McVeigh illustrates that fundamentalism can just as easily originate in the West and outside Islam. Just as my listing of countries in the same post showcases that there are many countries where Muslims are the majority but the country is not governed by sharia law. The common tendency to lump these countries in with those that are governed by sharia law is inaccurate.

The non-Muslim students at Fordson should not have to practice football at 3 in the morning because of a religious holiday they don't observe.

So what do you suggest? Should the Muslims on the football team not practice until Ramadan is over? Provided that Fordson has enough players to field a football team until then.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:03 PM on August 17

It is absurd to suggest that this is primarily a health issue.

From the article:

"But with August's heat and doubled practice schedule, concerns grew about players' health, particularly the high risk of heat stroke.

"We know how hot it's been this summer -- it's not safe," Zaban said."

I'm a secularist but I don't have a problem with this because I do think it is for the safety of the kids. Running two a day drills in the hot august heat without being allowed to drink water or any liquid? That sounds like a recipe for disaster. The only alternatives were to cancel practice or move it to nighttime.

posted by cjets at 06:03 PM on August 17

Definitely some interesting establishment clause questions posed by this. I do think that one look at the historic jurisprudence shows that there are very real constitutional problems in altering a school schedule to comply with Islamic tenets.

The traditional Lemon test has been used by the Supreme Court. It hold that if a government action (such as a school scheduling a football practice) aids or furthers religion: (i) it must have a valid secular legislative purpose; (ii) its principle or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (iii) the act must not foster excessive government entanglement in religion.

Is the health and safety of children who fast during a certain time of the year a valid secular purpose? Arguably yes. I think it would be difficult to make the argument that the primary effect of the scheduling decision is anything other than advancing religion, but maybe someone else can make it. I don't see any way you can argue that this isn't a case of excessive government entanglement with religion. The school recognizes very overtly that its actions are motivated by compliance with Islam.

Precedent:

Wallace v. Jaffree - Alabama recognized a one minute period of silence in schools for meditation or voluntary prayer. The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional because it was "not consistent with the principle that government must pursue a course of neutrality" toward religion.

Lee v. Weisman - The practice of having members of the clergy deliver an invocation at graduation ceremonies was found unconstitutional because of the pressure placed on students to conform to that particular faith's practices. Coercion can be severe even when not overt.

Santa Fe v. Doe - Citing the previous case, a student chosen invocation preceding football games was found to violate the establishment clause, as the majoritarian process would have the effect of silencing minority views.

I'm a big fan of tolerance, but there is really no way to convince me that, in light of the decisions that the court has made for the last 50 years, this is acceptable. If we're going to defend our schools against Christianity with such zeal (as I think we should), I don't see why Islam should get a pass.

posted by tahoemoj at 06:03 PM on August 17

A high school football teams does something to accommodate it's players and it's the breaking of the seventh seal.

All due respect, Weedy, but you live in a country where the government can order the press not to cover a murder trial. Some of us down here have a pretty sacred view of the Bill of Rights.

posted by rcade at 06:04 PM on August 17

So what do you suggest? Should the Muslims on the football team not practice until Ramadan is over? Provided that Fordson has enough players to field a football team until then.

The parents of Muslim student athletes could (a) put them in private schools that accommodate their holidays, (b) allow them water when practices are held in heat, (c) skip regular practices during Ramadan and hold privately organized practices unaffiliated with the school, (d) allow night practices after sundown instead of starting at 11 p.m., or (e) buy the school a practice dome to reduce the risks of day practices in heat.

There are any number of potential solutions. I'm aware that water fasting puts Muslim athletes at a level of health risk the schools should consider. But the solution of practicing in the middle of the night is too onerous on non-Muslims and the sleep disruption is ridiculous.

posted by rcade at 06:10 PM on August 17

If we're going to defend our schools against Christianity with such zeal, I don't see why Islam should get a pass.

Excellent post, Tahoe. May I change my vote to cancel practice?

posted by cjets at 06:10 PM on August 17

All due respect, Weedy, but you live in a country where the government can order the press not to cover a murder trial. Some of us down here have a pretty sacred view of the Bill of Rights.

Granted (Well sort of - media can take records, but they can't publish until after the trial is over - and it's selectively applied). Do you think Canada is less free than the US?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 06:18 PM on August 17

I think people are really stretching to make this a first amendment violation. Certainly, federal employees get a paid day off every Christmas. Is that an endorsement of Christianity?

Schools and districts with diverse populations routinely adjust their schedules to accommodate religious observances. In NYC schools, kids get off for Yom Kippur and I haven't heard anyone accuse them of promoting religion. It does not violate the Constitution because it has a secular purpose. In school holidays, it is practical because many students and teachers would be out anyway. In this case, it is because the athletes could be physically harmed by a normal practice schedule. It doesn't matter why the kids are fasting for the school's purpose. It only matters that all the kids are fasting. I don't see how that is entanglement in religion at all.


But the solution of practicing in the middle of the night is too onerous on non-Muslims and the sleep disruption is ridiculous.

Did you see the list of people that were consulted in making this decision? It was extensive and included the parents, the school and district administrators, the neighbors, and the police. What more evidence do you need that it may not, in fact, be onerous to the people involved?

posted by bperk at 06:24 PM on August 17

Which side are you on??? The majority is dictating in this case.

I am on the side of a coach and kids playing football and observing their religion.

The winter break covers holidays of several religions.

Sometimes. Hanukkah often falls well before Christmas and Kwanzaa isn't a religious holiday. Maybe, Wicca has religious observances between Christmas and New Years Day, but I think that the solstice - often before Christmas break - was a more important day.

The First Amendment's Establishment Clause protects the rights of minorities to not have other religions imposed on them. The non-Muslim students at Fordson should not have to practice football at 3 in the morning because of a religious holiday they don't observe.

No religion is being "imposed" on anyone. Playing football is not a right. For example, Orthodox Jews do not have a right to stop Friday night football in Texas, you can choose to observe your religion or not to. Just like non-Muslims at Fordson can choose to practice at 3am or not. Just like Muslims most everywhere else can choose to play and fast or not fast or not play.

posted by MrNix67 at 06:26 PM on August 17

What more evidence do you need that it may not, in fact, be onerous to the people involved?

Do you genuinely believe that everyone is unanimously behind this plan? The pressure to be supportive of it in a school where 95% fast for Ramadan -- the coach's estimate -- would be huge.

The Establisment Clause doesn't count heads. There's an obvious constitutional question if even one student or parent is opposed. The argument that this is OK because everybody agrees with doing it is generally fallacious. Everybody agreed with school prayer. Everybody agreed with graduation prayer. The majority in California opposes gay marriage rights. Thank God for the Constitution.

Just like non-Muslims at Fordson can choose to practice at 3am or not.

There's no choice -- the team's practice is from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

posted by rcade at 06:34 PM on August 17

The Establisment Clause doesn't count heads. There's an obvious constitutional question if even one student or parent is opposed.

Then there is a constitutional question every time a school lets kids off for a religious holiday. I fail to see how this is at all different. It's an adjustment of a schedule, either a school calendar or an extracurricular practice, to accommodate a large number of students' religious beliefs.

posted by bperk at 06:45 PM on August 17

Just like non-Muslims at Fordson can choose to practice at 3am or not. There's no choice -- the team's practice is from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Yes, there is a choice, the choice is whether to be on the team or not. Just because, the decision is placed on non-Muslims in that community doesn't make it any different than a choice. Those are the conditions to play there.

The Establisment Clause doesn't count heads. There's an obvious constitutional question if even one student or parent is opposed. The argument that this is OK because everybody agrees with doing it is generally fallacious.

Agreed, but your interpretation comes across as - If the Christian majority accommodates their religion, in terms of scheduling around holidays, its OK. But if another communities' religious majority does the same where they live it isn't OK.

posted by MrNix67 at 06:54 PM on August 17

Precedent:

Wallace v. Jaffree - Alabama recognized a one minute period of silence in schools for meditation or voluntary prayer. The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional because it was "not consistent with the principle that government must pursue a course of neutrality" toward religion.

Lee v. Weisman - The practice of having members of the clergy deliver an invocation at graduation ceremonies was found unconstitutional because of the pressure placed on students to conform to that particular faith's practices. Coercion can be severe even when not overt.

Santa Fe v. Doe - Citing the previous case, a student chosen invocation preceding football games was found to violate the establishment clause, as the majoritarian process would have the effect of silencing minority views.

I'm a big fan of tolerance, but there is really no way to convince me that, in light of the decisions that the court has made for the last 50 years, this is acceptable. If we're going to defend our schools against Christianity with such zeal (as I think we should), I don't see why Islam should get a pass.

All 3 precedents are from cases that involved religious practices at the start of or during state-sanctioned events - School, School Graduation & H.S. football game. Fordson is practicing at night to avoid that conflict and protect the health of their players.

posted by MrNix67 at 07:05 PM on August 17

Lets assume that a coach is told one of his athletes that he will not be able to make it to the scheduled practice as he has a religious commitment at the same time. The coach will likely excuse that athlete for that practice. (This is the case with my kids who cannot practice on Wednesday evenings due to a bible study that we attend every week). Now lets assume numerous athletes present the same issue to the coach. At some point, the coach needs to aknowledge that having a practice at the scheduled time is not really effective. He would be inclined to reshedule the practice to a time when most of his athletes are available. Would he not? So if the only time that is available is after dark, does he still reschedule?

posted by Miles1996 at 07:07 PM on August 17

All 3 precedents are from cases that involved religious practices at the start of or during state-sanctioned events - School, School Graduation & H.S. football game. Fordson is practicing at night to avoid that conflict ...

This isn't an attempt by a public school to avoid religion. Scheduling a football practice to start at 11 p.m. is a government action. The motivation for that action is explicit: because Muslims fast during Ramadan. Some students are not Muslims. Those three ingredients are what makes the Establishment Claus pertinent.

You can argue that the health risks are so important that the practice should be at night, but I don't see how you can argue that they should be during the middle of the night when high school students should be in bed. You can also argue that the burden on non-Muslims is not onerous, but the fact that nobody else is practicing after midnight would suggest otherwise.

If the Christian majority accommodates their religion, in terms of scheduling around holidays, its OK. But if another communities' religious majority does the same where they live it isn't OK.

I've said nothing of the kind. School districts should not explicitly tie spring break to Easter. I don't think I've ever lived in a place that did.

If public schools around the country were having midnight practices to beat the heat for non-religious reasons, this wouldn't be an issue. They aren't. This is explicitly an accommodation to Ramadan.

posted by rcade at 07:08 PM on August 17

Speaking as an occasional coach, when the majority of my students can't make it to a practice for any reason (religious or otherwise), I reschedule the practice.

So, here's a practical question. As the coach, if I'm not allowed to reschedule the practice to a time that my students can make it, do you constitutional scholars advise me to:

A) Kick the majority of my players off the team for not coming to practice (presumably either not replacing them or replacing them with players from the 5% of the student population that can make it to practice)

or

B) Compete without adequate practice due to the absence of the majority of my players

I mean, as a matter of safety and strategy, it seems like the most practical choice would be to just reschedule the practice.

I suppose I could also quietly pressure all of the players to abandon their religion.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:39 PM on August 17

There shouldn't even be an argument about this. I don't care if 95% of the school is Muslim, this violates the laws concerning the separation of church and state. Period.

Most schools are no longer permitted to hang Christmas or Easter adornments of any kind in classrooms or halls. There can no longer be any discussion of creationism in public schools. The words "under God" are being removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, where the pledge is allowed at all.

Why then should the Muslims get special treatment in a public school because of their religious holiday? "This is explicitly an accommodation to Ramadan." Which is precisely why this is wrong and should be stopped.

posted by irunfromclones at 07:48 PM on August 17

How many times have you held a practice after midnight, Joey?

posted by rcade at 07:48 PM on August 17

The words "under God" are being removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, where the pledge is allowed at all.

Not true. The "under God" suit failed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Newdow vs Rio Linda Union School District). The court ruled the words are "ceremonial and patriotic nature" and did not constitute an establishment of religion. (I'm not supporting that ridiculous finding myself, just summarizing it.)

posted by rcade at 07:51 PM on August 17

You can argue that the health risks are so important that the practice should be at night, but I don't see how you can argue that they should be during the middle of the night when high school students should be in bed.

I hate to burst your bubble but during the summer high school students stay up long into the night.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:01 PM on August 17

"Will someone please think of the children."


Helen Lovejoy

posted by tommytrump at 08:26 PM on August 17

The words "under God" are being removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, where the pledge is allowed at all.

Seeing as those words weren't added until 60+ years after the pledge was written, I have no problem removing them. Same goes for "In God We Trust" on money...which wasn't added until 1957...

posted by MeatSaber at 08:52 PM on August 17

I've said nothing of the kind. School districts should not explicitly tie spring break to Easter. I don't think I've ever lived in a place that did.

They did in Michigan when I was growing up. And that's minor compared to all of the Jesus rallies we had in the gym during the school day. Do they still have Baccalaureate servics for the graduates? That was just one giant Jebus rally my senior year. I'm not sure what this has to do with anything, but there it is anyway.

posted by NoMich at 08:57 PM on August 17

I hate to burst your bubble but during the summer high school students stay up long into the night.

For official school functions? You must have gone to an interesting high school.

posted by rcade at 09:16 PM on August 17

What seems like such an easy comprimise to me...practice starting at 7:00PM, with the less physically demanding sections first (films, walk through of plays, strategy sessions, etc) followed by the physically demanding sections right after dusk.

Here in Texas, where it's been over 100 the past few weeks, my son's varsity team has practice that starts at 5:00 PM, with the real work out starting much later, around 7:30 when it's cooled off a bit (say all the way down to 98).

Ramadan doesn't stipulate that players can't attend a meeting at 7:00 PM.

I hate to burst your bubble but during the summer high school students stay up long into the night.

Not playing football they don't. And, the players I know (past and present) are too tired to stay up playing X-Box during football season.

And, on a much more important note, it looks like Brent is coming back!

posted by dviking at 09:18 PM on August 17

Wait, muslims play football?

posted by smithnyiu at 09:33 PM on August 17

Do you genuinely believe that everyone is unanimously behind this plan? The pressure to be supportive of it in a school where 95% fast for Ramadan -- the coach's estimate -- would be huge.

And yet you're not up in arms about the "huge" pressure imposed by the Christian majority in schools and other institutions throughout the country. You don't feel any need to create unanimity of support for the many accommodations Christian belief and practices that take place regularly in and around public institutions. rcade, you've mumble-mouthed about this in most of the comments you've made in this thread, but the fact is, you want to hold this predominantly Muslim team to an absolute no-establishment standard while you wink and nod out the other side of your face at the plethora of public, official, government-sponsored accommodations to Christianity that are made in this country: paid Christian holidays off, Sundays off, accommodations left and right for Christian religious observances. This is straight-up hypocrisy on your part.

And now that this story is out, I fully expect a bunch of pig-ignorant fools from god-knows-where-but-not-Dearborn to start some "movement" to try to shut down this football team's nighttime Ramadan practice. Way to go, USA! This whole thread, starting with the very first comment, disgusts me more than I can say.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:37 PM on August 17

This could never be found to be unconstitutional unless someone affected by this complains about it. The bellyachers on this thread, thankfully, have no standing. The relevant cases involve accommodating religion, and they are pretty generous to the government. States can even force businesses to close on Sundays because there is a secular benefit to having one uniform day off, but this is a day clearly chosen for religious reasons. The only way this could be unconstitutional is if one of the players successfully argues that this is an unreasonable burden. Since the coach already consulted the parents before making this decision, I think that is pretty unlikely. No one would be the least be surprised if no one complained about an accommodation of Christians in football practices in Texas but change the religion to Islam and it is the end of civilization as we know it.

posted by bperk at 09:42 PM on August 17

Perhaps if the minority doesn't like it they can send their kids to private school.

Think about that statement. No, really, think about it.

posted by graymatters at 09:46 PM on August 17

For official school functions? You must have gone to an interesting high school.

Of course not. But you and I both know that isn't what I meant.

They did in Michigan when I was growing up.

They just changed it about two years ago. Now Spring Break is the first week of April. Of course schools still give students the day off on Good Friday.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:00 PM on August 17

How many times have you held a practice after midnight, Joey?

Not frequently, but I have done it twice, with the full support of participants and families. Once on a Friday, once on a Saturday.

The parents seemed to be into the idea since it meant the kids would be out anyways and this way they were sure they weren't getting into trouble.

Aren't there all sorts of midnight basketball leagues? Aren't those considered a good thing by most of us?

posted by Joey Michaels at 10:29 PM on August 17

But you and I both know that isn't what I meant.

I gave your comment as much consideration as it was due, given that it was predicated on me being an imbecile.

And yet you're not up in arms about the "huge" pressure imposed by the Christian majority in schools and other institutions throughout the country. ...

I don't know where you get that idea, but it isn't from anything I've said in this thread. I'm a secularist who has been engaged in this issue since I was an undergraduate in college. On school prayer, graduation prayer and other permutations of this issue, I believe the Establishment Clause is justly used to pry religion's grip off our public institutions to protect the rights of the minority. This is one of the main reasons I joined the ACLU.

We're discussing the issue before us -- midnight football practices at a predominantly Muslim public school. If you want to discuss other issues, by all means bring them up. It would be more interesting than seeing you caricature me to bolster an argument.

Last year, when a coach baptized a student into evangelical Christianity without his parents' knowledge, we covered some of this ground. I took the ACLU side so strongly I was accused of persecuting Christians.

This could never be found to be unconstitutional unless someone affected by this complains about it. The bellyachers on this thread, thankfully, have no standing.

If you care that much about standing, are you going to change your position if a parent or student at Fordson opposes this policy?

The principle at stake here -- a public school should not recognize or endorse the majority's religious practices to the detriment of the minority -- would hurt Muslims across the U.S. a lot more than they're helped in Dearborn.

Incidentally, the former wrestling coach at this school filed a lawsuit against Principal Imad Fadlallah claiming that he's weeding out Christian employees and "has publicly stated he sees Dearborn Fordson High School as a Muslim school, both in students and faculty, and is working to that end." I don't know if the suit has merit -- the only sources I find are anti-Muslim axe grinders -- but it's worth scrutiny.

posted by rcade at 10:52 PM on August 17

The only way this could be unconstitutional is if one of the players successfully argues that this is an unreasonable burden.

No-see my previous post. If you'd like the cites to the cases, I can provide them, as well. Google them. The phrase "unreasonable burden" won't appear in any of them. That's not how the establishment clause is tested.

Your point about standing is valid, but there will be one student, maybe not this year, who challenges this. And it won't be found constitutional.

This whole thread, starting with the very first comment, disgusts me more than I can say.

If rational legal arguments regarding why this action might be in violation of the establishment clause disgust you, you might want to take a deep breath and assess your priorities.

For myself, and some other posters, this isn't about a fear or hatred of Islam. It's about protecting what I see as an important aspect of the constitution. From all religions, not just Islam.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:10 AM on August 18

paid Christian holidays off, Sundays off

Crap, I'm working at the wrong company.

Joey, as a coach, I also held a few midnight practices in the summer...however, neither one of us was doing it as part of a PUBLIC school sponsored program that was in place purely to placate a religious sect.

The only way this could be unconstitutional is if one of the players successfully argues that this is an unreasonable burden. Since the coach already consulted the parents before making this decision, I think that is pretty unlikely.

Surely, you can understand how that statement doesn't pass the smell test. If 95% of the players, and the coach, are Muslims, little Johnny knows that he would only get branded as a complainer if he, or his parents, object. We don't allow mob rule when it comes to religion and public schools. Just because no one complains doesn't make something right.


In regard to: I fully expect a bunch of pig-ignorant fools from god-knows-where-but-not-Dearborn to start some "movement" to try to shut down this football team's nighttime Ramadan practice.

First, I like the irony of bringing pigs into a discussion involving Muslims, ought liven it up a bit.

Second, if it were a PUBLIC in Minnesota (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan) holding practice at an odd time in order for Christians to attend a month long religious event, we'd be hearing about it.

Seriously, I have to go watch ESPN, they're going to show Favre's plane landing at an airport in Minnesota again.

posted by dviking at 12:23 AM on August 18

I think you confused us when you called him Brent in the last post.

posted by tahoemoj at 12:31 AM on August 18

Look, I'm far left liberal, pro-ACLU and support the separation of church and state, but I have to ask again, as a sheer practical matter, if the majority of the team can't make practice, what should the coach do?

If the coach has approached members of effected constituencies in his area and they've said "11-4 is the best solution for the team's success" and this solution maximizes the possibility of student safety and participation, then what is the concern?

Respecting a person's religious behavior is a different thing than forcing a religion on people or endorsing a religion. This is a very different thing than endorsing school prayer or forcing religious conversion - both of which I oppose.

In my (minority) opinion, this is about practically addressing a challenge specific to this community that allows their football practice to be safe and for the team to (potentially) be successful.

Maybe I'm over sensitive about student safety, but I can't help but think a student engaged in intense athletic activity is in a safer situation if they can drink water for four hours of their five hour practice than at a 7 pm -midnight practice having not drank all day (and having to be active for five hours without drinking).

Given the choice between healthy players and unhealthy players, I'd choose the former.

Unless, of course, we're talking about requiring them to abandon religious practice for the sake of football - or abandon football for the sake of their religion.

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:38 AM on August 18

By changing it's schedule from the norm (don't try to tell me that 11PM to 4:00 AM is the norm), they are promoting a certain religion. They are helping, supporting, fostering, etc., that religion.

Any wagers on how many high school football practices are held on Sunday mornings in Christian-dominated-football-fanatical southern states, compared to Saturday mornings?

posted by grum@work at 12:44 AM on August 18

Second, if it were a PUBLIC [school] in Minnesota (Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan) holding practice at an odd time in order for Christians to attend a month long religious event, we'd be hearing about it.

Of course we would. The media would be talking it up, big time. There would be interviews about how dedicated these God-fearing Christian boys were to both their first (Christianity) and second religion (football).
CBN would probably hold a half-hour special to interview the coach and the players.
Michelle Bachman would invite them to her office to get photos with them.

posted by grum@work at 12:48 AM on August 18

Any wagers on how many high school football practices are held on Sunday mornings in Christian-dominated-football-fanatical southern states, compared to Saturday mornings?

If you're suggesting that there's a double standard, you're absolutely right. There's blue laws on the books all over America, and the majority of Americans still value Christianity and Judeo-Christian ideals. That doesn't mean that imposing them on public school students is constitutional or right.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:36 AM on August 18

After looking at Turkey, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, and Azerbaijan it is evident that there is a wide amount of tolerance. Astonishingly, these countries protect and guarantee freedom of religion.

Ahem.

Saying they will, then actually protecting religious freedom, are clearly two different things for the Indonesian authorities.

posted by owlhouse at 02:07 AM on August 18

Respecting a person's religious behavior is a different thing than forcing a religion on people or endorsing a religion. This is a very different thing than endorsing school prayer or forcing religious conversion

THIS.

posted by ursus_comiter at 07:00 AM on August 18

If the coach has approached members of effected constituencies in his area and they've said "11-4 is the best solution for the team's success" and this solution maximizes the possibility of student safety and participation, then what is the concern?

Doing something no one else does -- practice from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. -- is not a reasonable concession.

Doing something other teams do for non-religious, health-conscious reasons -- practice after dusk but still in normal waking hours -- is a reasonable concession.

Doing something for explicitly religious reasons at a public school -- is not constitutional.

Doing something by building a strong case for the health considerations, and handling it the way other schools have addressed it for non-religious reasons, despite being partly motivated by religion -- may be constitutional.

A Detroit report indicates one parent has complained about the midnight practices.

The linked story also indicates the coach is willing to move the practice time for competitive reasons: "Since Ramadan will continue for the first two weeks of the regular season, Zaban will begin adjusting the practice time so the players will be ready for their opener Aug. 27 at defending Division 1 state champ Novi Detroit Catholic Central."

If this came up in court, that action shows there's no reason he can't hold practice at a non-ridiculous time.

posted by rcade at 08:45 AM on August 18

are clearly two different things for the Indonesian authorities

Agreed. YYM, I'm definitely on your side in the debate, but I'd be hard-pressed to find a country in your list that offered anything close to religious tolerance. Turkey, maybe, up until the last year or so when their religious right said "Enough with this EU niceness."

I don't care if 95% of the school is Muslim, this violates the laws concerning the separation of church and state. Period.

Whichever side of the debate you fall on, can we skip the leave the "'Nuff said" agreements to Mr. McGreevy?

The words "under God" are being removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, where the pledge is allowed at all.

Good. I hope they strip anything that even hints of religion out of it. When my grandfather was in public high school, his teacher used to make them stand for the Pledge with the admonition that they'd be saying the whole thing, "Even you Papists". So nuts to anything that gives people a way to be divisive under the cowardly guise of American Pride.

In a rather amazing piece of turn-about, my grandfather later solved her murder. An Irish cop. Amazing, ain't it.

This thread is also a reminder that I am extremely jealous of Howard's life well lived, though I think you picked a better time than right now to be a Christian in Egypt, if recent articles in The Economist are to be believed.

posted by yerfatma at 09:01 AM on August 18

Doing something no one else does . . . is not a reasonable concession.

I know what you mean, but that can't be a test of acceptability or we'd still be waiting to integrate a school.

posted by yerfatma at 09:02 AM on August 18

I know what you mean, but that can't be a test of acceptability or we'd still be waiting to integrate a school.

I'm trying to boil this down to the tests I think a judge would apply. Establishment Clause cases turn on fine-grained distinctions, largely because judges twist themselves into pretzels to keep God in the pledge, on money and in other civic institutions. The last Newdow Pledge case contains the ridiculous assertion by the majority that "The words 'under God' were added as a description of 'one Nation' primarily to reinforce the idea that our nation is founded upon the concept of a limited government, in stark contrast to the unlimited power exercised by communist forms of government." Because if there's one thing we can all agree God stands for, it's limited power.

The strongest defense for Fordson is to show that they made reasonable concessions that could be taken by other schools for non-religious reasons.

posted by rcade at 09:23 AM on August 18

Agreed. YYM, I'm definitely on your side in the debate, but I'd be hard-pressed to find a country in your list that offered anything close to religious tolerance.

Some countries on that list display a lot more tolerance than others. Granted most of them don't approach the level of tolerance that is displayed here in the United States but there isn't a complete lack of tolerance either.

And then there are the countries like Indonesia that preach tolerance but don't practice it.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:33 AM on August 18

As someone with abhorrence for anything religious, but a keen sense that those who wish to should be as free to observe their religions as I am free to dismiss their beliefs as superstitious woolly nonsense, I've been resisting weighing in here, but sod it.

The suggestion that they're doing this for "religious reasons" is inaccurate. They're doing it for hydration reasons, albeit to overcome an obstacle to hydration placed there by religious practice. I'm not sure that makes any difference, but it smacks less of hysteria.

There was also a suggestion that it would somehow be OK for the practice session to be held from sunset until late in the evening instead of from 11PM until the small hours of the following morning; either it's unconstitutional to change the practice schedule because of this or it isn't. I don't see how the timing of the rescheduling matters to the argument about whether or not it's OK to do it at all.

Also, Ramadan is not a "holiday"; it's a prolonged act of worship and self-sacrifice, the aim of which is to bring the observer closer to his or her god. I accept Howard's point that the ideals are not always strictly observed, but that doesn't change the intention of the thing.

One possible loophole that might have avoided the problem of keeping everyone up late (which isn't the point, I know, but still): if you travel more than 81 kilometres in a day, you are exempt from fasting. The school needs to find a practice facility 40.5km away and then they can practice whenever they like (and eat and drink as physically required).

posted by JJ at 09:43 AM on August 18

... either it's unconstitutional to change the practice schedule because of this or it isn't. I don't see how the timing of the rescheduling matters to the argument about whether or not it's OK to do it at all.

Read some of the cases about student-led voluntary prayer at school functions. As Tahoe says in the Lemon test comment, fine-grained distinctions like the exact time do matter. Also, a potential plaintiff has to prove harm. Is a high school football player harmed by practicing at 7 p.m. when night practices are common?

posted by rcade at 09:55 AM on August 18

Two of the ads currently displaying are "How to Convert to Islam" and "How to Become a High School Principal."

posted by rcade at 09:58 AM on August 18

Any wagers on how many high school football practices are held on Sunday mornings in Christian-dominated-football-fanatical southern states, compared to Saturday mornings?

If you're suggesting that there's a double standard, you're absolutely right. There's blue laws on the books all over America, and the majority of Americans still value Christianity and Judeo-Christian ideals. That doesn't mean that imposing them on public school students is constitutional or right.

I never thought it was "constitutional" or "right". I was commenting on how dviking thought it was wrong to decide when a practice was held because of "religious" reasons, when in fact it has probably been happening for decades and dviking didn't seem to think that was wrong (when it's his (probable) religion of choice).

posted by grum@work at 09:59 AM on August 18

There was also a suggestion that it would somehow be OK for the practice session to be held from sunset until late in the evening instead of from 11PM until the small hours of the following morning; either it's unconstitutional to change the practice schedule because of this or it isn't. I don't see how the timing of the rescheduling matters to the argument about whether or not it's OK to do it at all.

The sun doesn't go down in Michigan until 8:30pm in late August.
Considering most of the players haven't eaten all day, I'd assume they'd want to have a family meal when that happens, so the earliest I could see them practicing would be 10:30pm (figuring dinner and a chance for the food to start digesting).

posted by grum@work at 10:01 AM on August 18

No-see my previous post. If you'd like the cites to the cases, I can provide them, as well. Google them. The phrase "unreasonable burden" won't appear in any of them. That's not how the establishment clause is tested.

We can certainly agree to disagree, but I think this is one of the cases where the court has to balance the Establishment clause with the Free Exercise clause (see Cutter v. Wilkinson and Locke v. Davey). For example, if the school prohibited the changing practice time, it would run smack into the Free Exercise clause. I think the school can make a very compelling argument (see the comments of JJ and Joey Michael above) that this accommodation has a completely secular purpose for purposes of the establishment clause. In addition, the school can also make a good argument that it is not unjustifiably burdensome under the free exercise clause (see grum's comments). Further, the court is trending to allow, and, in fact, require more religious accommodations. I'll just add that there is very little likelihood that the current Court would apply the Lemon test (Thomas has called it discredited).

posted by bperk at 11:33 AM on August 18

The principle at stake here -- a public school should not recognize or endorse the majority's religious practices to the detriment of the minority -- would hurt Muslims across the U.S. a lot more than they're helped in Dearborn.

Sure. Though, I don't see much, or any, detriment to the minority here and certainly not enough to make a federal case out of/lose sleep over.

Marginally related: We used to have preseason morning practices for baseball at 5:30 am to get done before class started. Those practices would kill me, I'm not a functional human at that time of day. I'd much rather do the 11-4am practices.

posted by tron7 at 12:28 PM on August 18

For example, if the school prohibited the changing practice time, it would run smack into the Free Exercise clause ...

How can the school prohibit something when the school is the entity setting the practice time?

posted by rcade at 12:44 PM on August 18

If the school prohibited the coach from making a reasonable accommodation, for example.

posted by bperk at 01:07 PM on August 18

One more thing has occurred to me. Since Ramadan is a movable period, that is, it does not happen at the same time from year to year, What happens when Ramadan is during the autumn and the school has an away game scheduled for a Saturday afternoon against a team without a lighted field? Now we have a health-related issue, and the accommodation for this might be quite difficult. Rescheduling is one obvious possibility, as is changing the field, but either option could be a problem. Taking a forfeit punishes the team for its religious makeup. I don't know about Michigan, but the HS schedules in NH are set by the state interscholastic athletic body rather than the individual schools. I doubt a state body would foresee such a problem.

Just to clarify one thing I noticed in a previous comment: neither Eid el Fitr nor Eid el Kebir is observed during Ramadan. Eid el Fitr occurs at the end of the Ramadan month, and Eid el Kebir sometime later. Thus, having these holidays off from school to mitigate the effect of Ramadan is not possible.

posted by Howard_T at 01:51 PM on August 18

What happens when Ramadan is during the autumn and the school has an away game scheduled for a Saturday afternoon against a team without a lighted field?

My impression is that Fordson will play games during Ramadan at the appointed time, despite the fact that their observant Muslim players are fasting. Perhaps that long-distance rule someone mentioned upthread will let them hydrate for some road games.

posted by rcade at 02:13 PM on August 18

My impression is that Fordson will play games during Ramadan at the appointed time, despite the fact that their observant Muslim players are fasting.

Yes, and as mentioned earlier, the coach will be gradually re-scheduling practices as the season approaches so that the students can adjust to playing during fasting.

We need to remember that this wasn't a decree, or a statute, or even a change in school rules. This was a compromise to solve a problem faced by the coachthe problem of "hey, if we practice during the day, we won't be making the most of our practice time".

The coach isn't refusing outright to coach during observance, and the students aren't refusing to play during observance. They're just trying to work around the inconvenience of fasting when the option is available to themi.e. during summer when normal school hours aren't in effect.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:40 PM on August 18

Oops, the dashes in my comment got destroyed when editing it.

"...faced by the coach—the problem of..." and "...available to them—i.e. during summer..."

posted by DrJohnEvans at 02:58 PM on August 18

I'll just add that there is very little likelihood that the current Court would apply the Lemon test (Thomas has called it discredited).

I'm pretty sure that Scalia would say the same thing, but luckily Thomas and Scalia aren't the entire SCUSA. What would be applied is a derivative of it that focused heavily on the coercion and entanglement aspects. I personally think both of those questions come out heavily against the night practices, but I'll certainly concede that reasonable arguments can be (and are being) made to the contrary.

posted by tahoemoj at 07:32 PM on August 18

I think Scalia and Thomas would be all about a Lemon Party.

posted by yerfatma at 08:26 PM on August 18

It is delightful in tea.

posted by tahoemoj at 08:44 PM on August 18

I never thought it was "constitutional" or "right". I was commenting on how dviking thought it was wrong to decide when a practice was held because of "religious" reasons, when in fact it has probably been happening for decades and dviking didn't seem to think that was wrong (when it's his (probable) religion of choice).

First of all, you have no idea what my choice in religions is, but if you were paying attention, I noted that I don't get Sundays off, so obviously I'm not a devout practitioner of a religion that requires no work on Sunday. My job is a 24/7 affair, that often involves Sundays and early AM hours, but I'm not a 16 year old kid attending a public school.

Second, most schools, this one included, practice during the normal school week, so the Sunday argument is a bit off track. However, I do agree that most Blue Laws are outdated. My son's sports teams do have Sunday meetings, and both his baseball and lacrosse teams play in tournaments that often involve Sunday games, some of which require activities in the morning, so it's really not as if school sports never involve Sundays.

As I, and others, have noted there is the ability to start quite a bit earlier than 1:00 AM, and that was the point I was making when I made my earlier post

posted by dviking at 11:39 PM on August 18

One possible loophole that might have avoided the problem of keeping everyone up late (which isn't the point, I know, but still): if you travel more than 81 kilometres in a day, you are exempt from fasting. The school needs to find a practice facility 40.5km away and then they can practice whenever they like (and eat and drink as physically required)

Or the players can run the field 885 times.

posted by BoKnows at 12:19 AM on August 19

Any wagers on how many high school football practices are held on Sunday mornings in Christian-dominated-football-fanatical southern states, compared to Saturday mornings?

When I was a kid most stores closed on sundays. Not so anymore. It's gotten a little bit better. Though we still have the ridiculous alcohol restrictions.

However, when I played baseball in the late 80s we had long practice on sunday mornings if needed. There were no complaints. Of course, baseball in the south is the bastard stepchild of football, so maybe no one noticed.

I guess my question would be is football practiced on sundays everywhere outside the south? I'm guessing no (though that's just a guess).

posted by justgary at 01:17 PM on August 19

Florida's blue laws now only prohibit alcohol sales before 11 a.m. on Sundays. As a kid in Texas, I don't think Sunday sales were permitted at all.

posted by rcade at 04:39 PM on August 19

Only 11? That could be endless! The weirdest thing about VA's alcohol laws is that there is no open container law. So you can be drinking if you are a passenger, which I think probably increases carpooling.

posted by bperk at 05:22 PM on August 19

Blue Laws still exist in Mass and Rhode Island, but they're maintained by the liquor stores who don't want competition from grocery stores. Thankfully I now live in a state that does not accept abridgment of rights. Like being forced to wear a motorcycle helmet.

posted by yerfatma at 10:28 AM on August 20

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