February 5, 2017

Jewish Day Schools and Their Sports

Gideon Fox ‘19


During the Whiteout Game, where Golda Och Academy faced Kushner Academy, the differences between the Yeshiva League and the NJSIAA – the governing body of high school sports in New Jersey – became quite obvious. The biggest distinction being the kippah rule.
There was a lot of confusion before the game started about whether or not the players on both sides should wear kippot. After the confusion was resolved, most of the players removed their kippot.
Since the game was not an official Yeshiva League game, Kushner Academy accepted the ruling. If the game had been an official Yeshiva League game, however, both teams would have been required to wear kippot.
According to the Metropolitan Jewish Day School Basketball League rulebook, “All male coaches and team personnel of the Jewish faith must wear head coverings in the facilities where any and all games are played.”
The NJSIAA’s rulebook, of course, cannot require religious objects, but does allow them as long as they doesn’t interfere with the game.
Another rule in the MJDSBL rulebook is that “all girls competing in MJDSBL games must wear (minimally) T-shirt uniform tops WITH SLEEVES and ANKLE LENGTH sweatpants or a skirt. Failure to follow this procedure will constitute an intentional forfeit of a game.”
Unlike the NJSIAA, there is a degree of ambiguity to the Yeshiva League. For instance the “M” in MJDSBL, which stands for Metropolitian, means that the games can be anywhere in New Jersey or New York. That requires that teams from this area such as Kushner or any of the ones in Teaneck, routinely have to take the trip to Brooklyn or Manhattan to play.
That results in the traveling team to get home around nine or ten o’clock on a night when they have a lot of homework and have to be up early for school the next day. In the NJSIAA, other than a few exceptions, schools always play other schools in the state and the two schools are located reasonably close to each other. This cuts down on travel time.
Another advantage the NJSIAA offers is the diverse list of sports that students can compete in. The NJSIAA has 21 sports while the Yeshiva League only has six. This allows new teams to be created, like the newly-formed girls lacrosse team.
Although it may not seem like it, there are some benefits of the Yeshiva League. You never have to miss a game or tournament because it falls out on shabbat or a holiday. Since everyone in the league is Jewish, all the games and tournaments are scheduled around the holidays.
Another benefit of the Yeshiva League is that there is less of a need to make up work since all of the schools dismiss around the same time.
Different institution belong in each conference. It is logical that orthodox Jewish schools such as Kushner Academy are in the MJDSBL, providing an environment in line with their religious values while keeping the games competitive. Golda Och Academy’s placement makes sense, as being a conservative Jewish day school allows them to compete against other secular private schools and public schools.
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