Alabama High School Athletic Association explains reason for not moving Adventist team’s game from Sabbath

Published: Feb. 25, 2022 at 4:07 PM EST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF/Gray News) - A new letter explains why the Alabama High School Athletic Association decided to not move the time of a Seventh-day Adventist high school basketball team’s tournament game, which led to the team forfeiting.

WAFF reports the AHSAA responded to a letter from Gov. Kay Ivey that expressed concerns with the organization’s handling of the situation involving Oakwood Adventist Academy in Huntsville.

The team advanced to the round of 16 playoff last week, but when Oakwood learned it was given a 4:30 p.m. game time Saturday, the school asked the AHSAA and other teams in the regional tournament if they would switch them to the 7:30 p.m. game, which falls after the Sabbath, since it was after sundown.

The AHSAA denied that request.

“When God created the earth, on the seventh day he rested,” said senior team captain Raynon Andrews. “He calls us to rest on that day and give that day to him. I’m not going to play on that day no matter what, because it’s bigger than basketball.”

AHSAA executive director Alvin Briggs replied to Ivey’s letter, stating that based on becoming a full member of the association, the team agreed back in 2017 to participate in all playoff games without a petition or forfeit if they fell on a Friday or Saturday. Briggs added the association simply upheld the agreement that Oakwood made.

“Granting an exemption or making an exception for any reason, every time one is requested, would be chaotic,” Briggs wrote. “The member schools write the rules and expect the AHSAA to govern their rules and policies consistently with both public and private members.”

The AHSAA stood behind its decision after the team’s forfeiture sparked national attention.

“Regardless of news reports and the public narrative that has been created, the AHSAA simply upheld the agreement that was made when Oakwood became a full member,” Briggs said.

Although Oakwood Adventist Academy took the forfeit, the team traveled to the tournament at Jacksonville State University to cheer on the two teams that offered to trade times with them.

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