I love rooting for underdogs, and the underdog story-of-the-week is one worth blogging about. The young men who play varsity basketball at Houston's Beren Academy -- a private school for Orthodox Jews -- made national headlines for playing well and staying true to their faith.
As Orthodox Jews, they cannot - among other things - play sports during the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. So earlier this week when the team drew a 9 p.m. Friday TAPPS semifinal game time, the boys, their coach and their rabbi/principal were all prepared to simply forfeit the game. They didn't want the rules changed for them and observing the Sabbath, or shabbot, was more important than basketball.
It wasn't until community members, who, incidentally, are not Jewish, came forward did the Beren boys and their boosters decide to challenge the 2 p.m. time. Everyone in Houston suddenly became fans of the Beren Stars. We learned about the strict ways of Orthodox Sabbath, and we spoke loudy - and in unison - to say that since no game times are set on Sundays as a Christian observance, well, no Jews should be expected to play at a time considered sacred to them.
The boys won their early Friday afternoon game, but lost to Abilene Christian on Saturday night. I'd say the teens are winners nonetheless. They've learned about faith and fairness, hard work and hard play in the course of one week. They learned that their Orthodox community may be very small, but there's a big world of people of all faiths who were rooting for them all week long.
Their season is over now and they can savor the memories of the shared experience. Ultimately, they didn't have to sacrifice their faith or their sport.
Sometimes, things work out exactly as they should.