(2-25-22) Oakwood Adventist Academy is a Seventh-Day Adventist school in Huntsville, Alabama located 100 miles north of Birmingham. The boy’s basketball team had advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament last week and was scheduled to play Faith Christian. It was their first-ever regional tournament appearance.
The regional semifinal game was set for Saturday, February 19 at 4:30 p.m., and that would interfere with Sabbath, which is observed from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday.
The athletic director Calvin Morton emailed the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) twice to ask if they could play at 7:30 p.m. instead, after sunset, to meet their religious beliefs. The other two schools (Cornerstone School and Decatur Heritage) in the regional who were scheduled after the Oakwood game were both willing to play in the 4:30pm game.
The AHSAA denied that request. Oakwood Adventist would forfeit the game rather then play on their sabbath. Faith Christian was declared the winner by a 2-0 forfeit.
Judy Chiles-Dent, OAA principal told the Adventist Review –
“OAA stands firm in their convictions and painfully but proudly forfeits their Saturday/Sabbath playoff game scheduled this afternoon at JSU and their hard-earned shot at the Alabama state championship out of their firm Bible-based belief in seventh-day (Saturday) Sabbath observance,”
That is when Alabama Governor Kay Ivey became involved in the situation. The Governor sent a letter to the AHSAA asking for answers to why the Mustangs request was denied.
AHSAA executive director Alvin Briggs responded to the Governor’s letter –
“The AHSAA Central Board of Control had questions about Oakwood participating (in the AHSAA) since their school is a Seventh Day Adventist organization that recognizes the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday,”
“Therefore, Oakwood agreed to follow the rules of the AHSAA and agreed to participate in all playoff games without petition, or forfeit. The statement was provided to the AHSAA in writing, and the AHSAA responded, in writing, accepting their agreement to participate in championship play, without petition, or forfeit.”
“Granting an exemption or making an exception for any reason, every time one is requested, would be chaotic. he member schools write the rules and expect the AHSAA to govern their rules and policies consistently with both public and private members.”
“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,”
The Governor also sent a letter to the Oakwood team –
The Mustangs end the season, including the forfeit at 13-11 (MaxPreps). Faith Christian, after the forfeit win over Oakwood, would lose their next game against Decatur Heritage Christian Academy 43-41.
When and why the Seven Day Adventist observe the Sabbath –
The Seventh-day Adventist Church keeps the Sabbath from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, because God set apart the seventh day of creation week to be a day of rest and a memorial of creation