Michigan Football Team Observes Ramadan, Puts NYC to Shame

For high schoolers, observing the holy month is about being practical, not overtly political.

By Naima Ramos-Chapman Aug 16, 2010

The hysteria over the "Ground Zero Mosque" may be dominating this month’s news cycle, but elsewhere in the country, there’s good news.

In Dearborn, Michigan, the Fordson High School junior varsity team has moved all of its practices till after sunset, to accommodate its Muslim players in observance of the holy month of Ramadan. The story even made its way into ESPN’s 24-hour, entertainment driven news cycle

When Ramadan falls during football season, the players practice during daylight hours. But with August’s heat and doubled practice schedule, concerns grew about players’ health, particularly the high risk of heat stroke.

We know how hot it’s been this summer — it’s not safe," Coach Fouad Zaban said.

Working it out meant getting the approval of school and district administrators and the blessings of players, parents and police. Then, there were the residents in the surrounding neighborhood, who would hear more noise and see the illuminated field. So [Zaban] sent letters explaining the decision.


Defensive tackle William Powell, one of the team’s few non-Muslims, initially thought the coach was "out of his mind," but he’s come around. In fact, he’s even fasted.
"I’m around ’em, so I’ve tried a couple times but it’s hard," the 17-year-old said.

Dearborn has one of the country’s largest Muslim populations, so in some sense, this isn’t a surprise. But if an adolescent football player can "come around," then what’s wrong with these guys?