Monday, January 08, 2007

Sunrise, Sunset

Margee and Rebecca have covered this question pretty well and said most of what I was thinking about earlier today as I read hockeygirl's original post But I'll throw a few things out there.

First of all, as a pretty dedicated Christian (but not a freak, I swear!) I have to say upfront that I have a lot of respect for Benjamin Rubin. It's very tough to go against the grain of society the way he is and I'm sure that, even at the level he's at now, there are coaches, players, parents etc. who aren't down with the whole situation.

Should Rubin have to change his religious practice to play in the NHL? No, absolutely not. If a team thinks he's worth accommodating, they absolutely should be allowed to. I don't think the league has any right to turn away a player based on religious reasons. But Rubin does need to understand that certain organizations aren't going to be comfortable drafting or signing a player who could potentially miss a lot of games and practices. He also needs to be upfront about whether he intends to keep observing the Sabbath as a pro. (And that's not to imply that he wouldn't be upfront because it sounds like he absolutely would be.) A GM who drafts Rubin knowing that he's planning on sitting out the Sabbath also has no right to expect him to change his mind later. You know what you're getting.

If I were a GM would I draft him? No, probably not unless he's a very, very special talent. Even if I as a GM was comfortable with the arrangement it wouldn't mean the coaches or, more importantly, the players would be. I've heard too many forwards talk about how important chemistry can be to think this would go over well with the majority of a team. I'd be pretty unhappy if I had to practice/play with one line 3/4ths of the time and another line 1/4th of the time. It's one thing if things are being switched up due to injuries or ineffectiveness. I'm afraid it might be another thing altogether when things are being switched up to accommodate one player. Some players would respect a guy sitting out for religious reasons, some probably wouldn't. And even the ones who did respect the reasoning might still resent the special treatment or having to work when that player wasn't. As Margee said in her post, resentment can be really bad for a group. In a team sport, I think it's fair to expect every member of the team to be on the same page.

Should Rubin put aside his religion for a chance to play in the NHL? I don't think that's a question anyone but Rubin can answer. I certainly would but I didn't grow up in a home where the Sabbath (or in my case, Sundays) was necessarily considered a day of rest. We usually took it pretty easy but we weren't forbidden from doing anything. So for me practicing or playing on Sundays wouldn't be a huge deal, certainly not huge enough for me to turn my back on a chance to play in the NHL. There are many, many other ways I observe my religion and none of them are day specific. I guess the question ultimately is how important that particular observance is to Rubin.

Definitely some interesting issues and questions.

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