Ramadan Conflicts With High School Football; Schools Adjust

Posted: Aug 16, 2010 12:21 PM
To accommodate its Muslim players' strict Ramadan regimen, one Michigan high school football team is having to hold its preseason practices in the middle of the night

The Muslim players from Dearborn say the new 11p.m. - 4a.m. practice schedule is a way for them to eat and drink while observing the holy month of day time fasting known as Ramadan:

Cutting practice wasn't an option at football-crazy Fordson, which is coming off a one-loss season and has won four state titles and three runner-up seasons since it was established in 1928.

But nobody wanted to lessen the significance of Ramadan in the Detroit suburb widely known as the capital of Arab-America. ...

[Coach Fouad] Zaban proposed the late practices after realizing the rotating Ramadan would fall squarely during the start of a two-a-day practice schedule that launches football season. ...

Working it out meant getting the approval of school and district administrators and the blessings of players, parents and police. Then, there were the residents in the surrounding neighborhood, who would hear more noise and see the illuminated field. So he sent letters explaining the decision.

Zaban is unaware of such schedule switches elsewhere, though other teams at the school and in the district have moved practices earlier or later in the day. It's been more than three decades since Ramadan last fell during football preseason and Fordson's Muslim population was far smaller then -- and, he notes, there were no field lights.