Local clergy members are asking the Poland school board to reinforce and refine its policy on limited Sunday sports practices.
The board is expected to take action on the policy at its January meeting.
Pastor Reid Lamport of Church of the Rock addressed the board last week of behalf of the Poland Coalition of Clergy, which also had representatives present from Holy Family Catholic Church, Poland United Methodist Church and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
Lamport, who retired this year after coaching softball at Poland since 1986, said the group wants to see a “healthy balance” between athletic, academic and spiritual needs of students.
The coalition is requesting that Sunday sports practices occur only between 1 and 6 p.m., so that students are able to attend morning worship services and evening youth programs.
“There was a time when Sunday practice was unheard of,” said Lamport, who serves with associate pastor Mark Brungard, Poland’s head varsity football coach.
Interim Superintendent Don Dailey said school records indicate that in November 2008 then-school board members voted to allow Sunday practices, provided they didn’t start before 1 p.m. He added that no student-athlete should be penalized for attending religious services.
The coalition also is requesting student-athletes and coaches receive a written reminder every season that students attending churches-related youth retreats or other events are excused, per school policy.
Board member Elinor Zedaker said the blocked time would be beneficial to students who do not attend religious services, too, because it is a time when students know they will have a break.
“We over-program students,” she said.
School board president Dr. Larry Dinopoulos said he agreed with the coalition.
“We need a broader discussion for what’s important ... and a fundamental discussion about the role of athletics,” he said.
Lamport said some youth members of his congregation and others are skipping services and programs for sports practices, even optional sessions, because of fear they will miss out on playing time or be otherwise penalized.