Toronto Star

Conflict over religious dates ends Crawford’s season


Despite winning a league championsh­ip in its first year, the Crawford Academy senior girls basketball team’s season has come to an abrupt halt. Crawford qualified for this week’s Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Associatio­n Single- A playoffs in Sturgeon Falls, but was forced to withdraw because two of the three provincial playoff dates conflicted with religious obligation­s. Many of the 200 students at the high school, including half of the 12- member team, are Seventh Day Adventists who observe the Sabbath.

“ It’s no good, the girls worked hard to get where they got,” said coach Lloyd Lawrence, whose team finished on a four- game winning streak.

“( OFSAA) has to do something about scheduling playoffs that could create a conflict with religious holidays or observance­s,” added Lawrence.

Jennifer Bennett, OFSAA’s assistant director, said the provincial sports governing body organizes playoffs on a three- year schedule and tries to avoid conflicts. “We take all major religious holidays into considerat­ion but we only found out last week ( about Crawford) and it was just too late to make any adjustment­s.”

Five years ago, OFSAA staged the provincial gymnastics playoffs on Passover, resulting in nine athletes from the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto missing out on a chance to win a medal. Bennett hinted that OFSAA was between a rock and a hard place trying to stage playoffs that would accommodat­e everyone, while school administra­tors have often expressed concerns about too many days missed by students.

“ I’m very upset that we can’t go,’’ said 15- year- old Crawford guard Alexandra Hart.

“Because it’s not every year that a team like ours gets a chance to qualify.

“ One would think that the people organizing these events would be more considerat­e,” she added.

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