Adventist high school basketball team plans to forfeit playoff game scheduled during Sabbath

Published: Feb. 19, 2022 at 2:58 PM EST
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF/Gray News) - A group of Huntsville high school students is being put to the test, but one that doesn’t require a pen or pencil.

It’s all about standing strong in their faith.

WAFF reported they learned the Oakwood Adventist Academy High School varsity boys basketball team is planning to forfeit a playoff game, giving up a chance for a state championship, because the game falls on the Sabbath for Seventh-Day Adventists.

The team advanced to the sweet sixteen playoff round after winning a game Tuesday. They were given a 4:30 p.m. game time Saturday, but playing a game before sunset on Saturday goes against their religious practices.

They asked the Alabama High School Athletic Association and other teams in the regional tournament if they would switch them to the 7:30 p.m. game.

WAFF was told the AHSAA denied their request.

“When God created the Earth, on the seventh day he rested, 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,” senior team captain Raynon Andrews said.

Andrews said it’s a very hard reality for his team, who has poured so much into this season and made it further in the playoffs than any other boys basketball team in the school’s history.

Players and leaders of the team say it's a frustrating situation, but they will stand strong in...
Players and leaders of the team say it's a frustrating situation, but they will stand strong in their faith.(WAFF)

“People want us to play, they say, ‘Just play on Saturday.’ But I got to stick to my faith and stand up for what’s right and believe God will make a way for us to play,” Andrews said.

Calvin Morton, the school’s athletic director said it’s a simple switch.

“We’re not asking to change a venue, we’re not asking to change a date,” Morton said. “We’re just simply asking to change a 4:30 time to a 7:30 time to accommodate our religion and our faith. We’re just pleading on our behalf to make a reasonable accommodation for a simple time switch.”

Morton said the AHSAA has denied their request twice over email, making the likelihood of a forfeit in this team’s future very high.

“This is bigger than basketball, these guys know that and staying disciplined in their faith, that’s the most important thing,” Morton said.

If the AHSAA sticks with its answer, the team will not play.

As difficult as the situation is, Pastor Toussaint Williams, an associate pastor and parent of a player, said it’s a defining moment in these students’ lives.

“We have allow our young men to say, there are going to be moments when you’re going to be tested, and do you really believe what you believe, are you going to stand on the Bible,” Williams said.

WAFF reached out to AHSAA for a statement.

“All games at each regional are expected to be played as scheduled,” the organization said in their only statement.

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