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Court case over coach’s prayers brings back high school memories

Joseph A. Kennedy sued after the Bremerton, Wash., school board told him to stop mixing football and faith on the field. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case this week.RUTH FREMSON/NYT

The upcoming Supreme Court decision on freedom of speech for the high school football coach in Washington state brought back many high school memories (“Prayers prompt Supreme Court test of religious freedom,” Page A6, April 24). I am an oldster now, but I can never forget being the only Jewish player on my high school basketball team and feeling like an outsider.

If my high school coach had gone to the middle of the court after a game to pray, it would have been extremely tough for me not to participate. If I did not pray, would the coach play me in the next game? Would my teammates pass to me? Would I be excluded from more social events? And if I did pray, what would my parents think?


I have friends with many different religious beliefs. When I go to a church service with a friend, I love being there and participating. But a public high school is different. There should be no pressure.

For kids, a coach can be like a pastor, rabbi, or parent. They are kids’ mentors and supporters and can strongly influence their future.

Free speech and the free exercise of religion are critical in this country, but public schools are not the place for religious expression.

Rick Fentin