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Sunday, December 30, 2012 

Religion takes precedence in a sport game

A very galling display of sex discrimination took place at a junior league basketball game between Alfei Menashe's team and a team from Raanana, Elitzur, because the former had a girl member and the latter had some religious boys who may have been Haredi on it whose form of religious upbringing means they "couldn't touch a girl" (via Life in Israel). So, let's see if I can translate that Hebrew language article as best as possible:
Within reaching distance: the basketball game between the groups of Elitzur Raanana and Alfe Menashe was stopped after the Elitzur coach noticed that one of the players on the other team, Shauna Greenbaum, 10 years old, is also a girl. "I can not allow the children to play because they are religious who keep from contact [shomrei negiah]," he explained. The coach of Alfe Menashe would not prevent Shauna playing and Raanana were forced to return.

"The coach told me they were not prepared to play with me because I'm a girl," said Sheeran. "It's very offensive," added the girl who spent the previous game between the two teams bitterly crying on the bench.

"They are children in fifth grade and it's not a matter of keeping from contact at that age," explained Shauna's mother. The coach joined her saying, "Our group all are equal regardless of gender, height or talent," he explained.

No doubt such an event everyone loses, but who won the event official victory is actually Elizur. The team forfeited because the team of Alfei Menashe refused to hold the game under the conditions set by them.
Now just what justifies giving that team with a discriminatory view of girls the right to earn the technical score? According to this post, the most dismaying part of all is that the basketball association running these matches allows for a team with religious members to decide if girls can or can't be on the other team. Well that's something that's going to have to be changed. Girls have every right to join and practice on basketball teams, whether they're seeking a career in the sport or not. And the religious boys on Raanana's Elitzur team should not be taking part in the tournament if they're going to let their religious beliefs trump the fun that's supposed to be part of the whole game. The Alfei Menashe coach was right not to stand for this humiliating position this time, and they shouldn't play with the team again until they start setting a better example.

Update: here's more on the case from Alison Kaplan Sommer.

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