A Seventh-Day Adventist basketball team was forced to cancel its slot during last Saturday's semifinal game in observance of sabbath, after the Alabama High School Athletic Association twice denied requests to swap to a later time slot.
The Christian Post explained that Seventh-Day Adventists observe the sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. The Oakwood Adventist Academy basketball team was scheduled for the semi-final game at 4:30 p.m. at Jackson State University. Oakwood offered to swap slots for a 7:30 p.m. game, where both teams scheduled for the slot agreed to do so.
However, the Alabama High School Athletic Association refused to swap their schedules, which forced Oakwood to cancel the 4:30 p.m. game against Faith Christian, which is now expected to win 2-0 because of forfeit, as per AL.
Responding to the cancellation, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey demanded answers from the Alabama High School Athletic Association through a two-paged letter sent on Wednesday.
"In response to alleged treatment of the Oakwood Adventist Academy boys basketball team, I've sent a letter to the AHSAA to demand answers. I've also sent a letter to Oakwood to stand in solidarity with the team & to praise them for standing firm in their convictions," Ivey said.
In the letter addressed to AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs, Ivey expressed her deep concern on the treatment of the Oakwood Adventist Academy basketball team and stressed her intent to get some answers on it.
"According to news reports, the AHSAA denied Oakwood a very modest accommodation of its religious beliefs," Ivey said.
"I've read that the AHSAA denied Oakwood's simple request--not once but twice. And the result, for the team, was surely agonizing: It was forced eighter to play a game against the dictates of its players' and coaches' faith or to forfeit the game entirely, and thereby lose the chance to continue a hard-fought and hard-earned successful season," she continued.
Ivey reminded in the letter of how Alabamians regard their faith, which she said is a very good thing for it brings them together. The governor stressed how faith becomes a source of comfort during challenging times. Faith also drives Alabamians to make better communities, such that it has become a hallmark of the state's greatness. These very reasons, she said, disturbed her after reading news on Oakwood's treatment.
The governor particularly enlisted a series of questions for the AHSAA to provide her answers with. The questions required AHSAA to disclose who made the decision of denying Oakwood's request, the process involved in making the decision, the factors they considered in denying the religious request of Oakwood, and if such denial violated any of their policies, among others.
Meanwhile, Oakwood coach Melvin Allen explained that their requests with AHSAA were not unreasonable but a simple one that involved moving their team's time slot during the game.
He disclosed that he hoped they would be accommodated in their request, knowing that AHSAA had to consider several factors in arriving at its decision. Allen said he understood AHSAA had considerations before deciding on the matter.