The Robert M. Beren Academy, an Orthodox Jewish high school in Houston, Texas, is back in the state basketball championship tournament after legal pressure led tournament organizers to reschedule the timing of the semifinal and championship games. The school made news this week when it bowed out of the chance to compete because the games fell on Friday evening and Saturday, which is the Jewish sabbath known as Shabbat.
ESPN.com reports that a group of parents filed a lawsuit asking the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) to reschedule the games to accommodate the religious requirements of the Jewish students.
After being notified the lawsuit had been filed, TAPPS director Edd Burleson said the association would reverse course and allow Beren (23-5) to play Dallas Covenant at 2 p.m. Friday at Fort Worth Nolan High School.
Should the [Beren] Stars win, they'll start their championship game no earlier than 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Headmaster Harry Sinoff and coach Chris Cole only learned of the legal action Thursday morning, they said, and regretted that the situation reached the level of legal action.
"It's a mixed emotion," Cole said. "We feel like we've earned the right to play. Our focus all week has been trying to get TAPPS to reschedule the game times to accommodate us.
"At the same time, this was not the course of action that we wanted."
Burleson said earlier this week that association bylaws prevented TAPPS from moving Beren's game time.
The complaint says that the basketball team is "being denied, solely on account of their religious observance, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compete in their athletic conference's state basketball championship tournament.
Image: Basketball in the net, via Shutterstock.