The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


April 23, 2014

OSSAA and religion mix a strange brew

ENID, Okla. — The recently completed Merrifield Office Plus invitational prep baseball tournament provided area fans with an entertaining dose of small-school baseball played at a top-of-the-line facility at David Allen Memorial Ballpark. Unfortunately, it also provided a strong reminder of what happens when tournaments are hamstrung by antiquated rules that force the organizers to overload the daily schedule of games, making it impossible to keep the games on schedule.

And who or what is to blame? Mostly, a strange brew between the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association and religion.

A perusal of the OSSAA’s available online manuals for each sport it oversees revealed baseball is the only sport specifically precluded from playing on Wednesdays. At least that is the best one could interpret, since much of the OSSAA’s manuals read with the ease of a schematic of a General Motors ignition assembly.

Although only passed in 2012, the OSSAA’s rule to prohibit baseball from playing baseball on Wednesdays was a concession to church services. Though it was an unwritten rule for years, OSSAA saw the need to memorialize it. That, along with the unwritten rule that no games can be played on Sunday, seriously impacts the ability to put on competitive games, especially for tournaments that are forced to cram everything in a Thursday to Saturday window.

That compacted scheduling window meant, for instance, the Merrifield was forced to schedule as many as six games at each facility (Pioneer High School also served as a host site) on consecutive days and five games on championship Saturday. The result was predictable as games, even though a time-limit was allegedly in place, ran over and by the end of the day, the final game was starting by as many as 90 minutes late, extending late into the night.

How it serves the student-athletes (and remember, these kids are students first) to have to play so many games in such a tight timeframe or late into the night benefits anybody is open to serious debate.  Now, to be fair, some of the blame can be laid at the feet of the umpires who, for some reason, and despite the clearly prescribed tournament rules, still at times allowed 35-40 minutes to pass between games that would have otherwise started on time.

But still it would seem to come back to the fact OSSAA is forcing such a situation by bowing to religious pressures.

Scheduling games, and this could be limited only to tournaments, from Wednesday through Sunday would not put any additional burden on the players, nor cause them to miss more instructional time. Games could be spaced out over the four days, meaning not every team would have to play each day. The tournament likely wouldn’t extend to 11:30 each night and the players would be fresher, providing a more competitive event. The burden seems especially tough for the smaller schools which have smaller rosters. This would ease that aspect as well.

It also would eliminate playing a championship game late into the night if the tournaments were allowed to play their title game on a Sunday afternoon. Both teams would be fresher, and really, is there anything more American than a baseball game on a sunny spring day at the ballpark?

Why baseball is singled out for the Wednesday ban is curious. Other spring prep sports play on Wednesday, such as golf or tennis. Interestingly too, OSSAA has a special clause allowing their baseball playoff games to be played on Wednesday. Apparently playoff baseball is not offensive to those attending Wednesday church services, just regular-season baseball.

It is not likely an occasional Wednesday or Sunday prep baseball game is going to seriously disrupt church services. Baseball is currently played at David Allen on Sunday by Northern Oklahoma College Enid and during football season, it seems folks manage to work in attending church around the NFL.

Enid recently shed itself of the antiquated “blue law” that prohibited liquor sales by the drink on Sundays. At last report, society has not collapsed in northwest Oklahoma. It’s time for the rest of the state, and OSSAA, to come along and join Enid in the modern age and play ball.

Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at

Text Only
  • OSU no longer faces APR restrictions

    NCAA officials say Oklahoma State’s football program no longer faces restrictions for the upcoming school year because its Academic Progress Rate has been amended.

    July 29, 2014

  • Attorney; OU's Mixon acted in self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon said the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 28, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rice's punishment hardly fit the crime

    Two games, just over 12 percent of the 16-game regular season. Two games for hitting a woman hard enough to knock her out cold.
    Rice said Monday he will not appeal his suspension, which could wind up costing him $529,411 in fines and salary. And why wouldn’t he? He must feel like he got off scot-free.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SamBradfordpicturejpeg Bradford used to being at 'career crossroads'

    It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • TU wins C-USA academic honor

    The University of Tulsa earned the 2013-14 Conference USA Institutional Excellence award by posting the highest grade point average during the 2013-14 academic year for all student athletes in conference-sponsored athletes, the school announced on Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hixon added to West All-State football team

    July 28, 2014

  • All-State Herndon's last act as EHS tennis coach

    July 28, 2014

  • Area swimmers help West sweep All-State dual

    Enid’s Sara Nazari, Hunter McEachern and Gabe Sanchez and Kingfisher’s Savanah Storey helped the West sweep the East at the All-State swim meet at Jenks High School Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Radio-TV for 7-29-14

    July 28, 2014

  • Judge OKs sale of Clippers

    A judge ruled against Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday in his attempt to block the $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

    July 28, 2014

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos

Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at