No football on Yom Kippur?

I was bowled over this morning to hear a Channel 12 announcer say that high school football games in the Valley had been played last night rather than tonight out of respect for Yom Kippur. Normally, all high school games are played on Friday nights.

Looking at the schedule of the Arizona Interscholastic Association, that appeared to be true, so I called the AIA for confirmation. The way it works, said Brian Bolitho, the AIA’s director of business media, is that when it sets athletic schedules (not just for football, but for all high school sports), it blacks out certain holidays, including the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, Good Friday through Easter AND Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  When it comes to football, if those Jewish holidays fall on a Friday, AIA does indeed schedule the games for those weeks on a Thursday, Bolitho confirmed. “The schools have the option of rescheduling,” he said, but most of them follow the AIA’s lead.

This is well worth of note, a sign – during a time when concerns about anti-Semitism are high – that at least some of our neighbors want the norm to be respectful and accepting of us.

I can’t speak for our community, but I would certainly hope that some of the leadership of the Jewish community here would step up and thank the schools that were respectful of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, allowing Jewish players and fans alike to attend this week’s games without having to make a choice. Perhaps someday all games would be played on Thursdays to avoid the avoid the conflict with Shabbat, but I think we should honor a step in the right direction.

Ultimately, with forethought, it’s easy to schedule games on a different day, but we can’t change the date of Yom Kippur.

– Salvatore Caputo

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