What would cause a state governor to take interest in a highschool basketball tournament? American state governors are kind of equivalent to Canada’s provincial premiers and the Alabama governor oversees the management of laws and agencies for a population similar in size to BC. Last weekend the semifinal games for the state’s Class 1A boy’s basketball championship were being held and among the teams who had advanced was Oakwood Adventist Academy. Seeing their scheduled game was at 4:30pm on a Saturday, before the Sabbath concluded at sundown, they sought a swap for the 7:30pm slot. Despite all competitors being agreeable to the accommodation the Athletic Association denied their request. Forced to choose between faith or sport, the team agreed to forfeit though they still attended the evening game to cheer on their peers. After a news report caught Governor Kay Ivey’s attention, she invited the team to meet with her and pledged her advocacy to prevent similar scenarios in the future.
Back in 2016 our Deer Lake School Falcons advanced to provincial playoffs prepared to face a similar decision if the schedule could not be adjusted for their Sabbath observance. Thankfully the BC Boys Basketball Association took a proactive and supportive stance.
I think there is more to these stories than the fight for religious freedom. It is the conviction and integrity of faith in these youth which is truly inspiring. Back in the 1900’s Ellen White wrote a statement about the world craving to know there are still people who cannot be bought or sold, whose inmost souls are true, honest and unwavering, those who will stand for what is right though the heavens fall. She attributes this character development to the Holy Spirit enabling self-discipline and growing a love of God that exceeds our selfish agenda.
May we see in these young athletes an example of what it looks like to honour God and uplift humanity.