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I’ve written many articles over the years about how Ramadan, the Islamic holy month when most Muslims fast daily from sunrise to sunset, affects Muslim athletes. But until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to how the religious holiday affects entire leagues.

There’s a simple explanation for my oversight: The sports I watch most frequently — football and basketball — are based in a non-Muslim country (the United States) and feature mostly non-Muslim athletes.

In these sports, Ramadan-related adjustments are made on a case-by-case basis. For example, college basketball players who are Muslim can work it out with their coaches to go to the bench once the sun sets for a quick snack, as a group of UConn players did during March Madness last year.

But in other, more international sports, Ramadan creates a bigger challenge, whether because a larger share of players take part in it or because a larger share of fans do (or both). These situations justify bigger changes, whether to the timing of events or to event rules.

In Formula 1, race organizers have adjusted the timing of two race weekends this year to account for the prominence of Islam in one of its host countries. Since Ramadan begins this weekend, they moved the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix up a day, which then necessitated the same change to last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix so that teams would have enough preparation time between races, according to Racing News 365.

In a growing number of soccer leagues, including the Premier League and MLS, officials are instructed to briefly stop play at sunset during Ramadan in games involving Muslim players. The stoppage gives these players a chance to quickly break their fast.

The timing of Ramadan changes each year since the Islamic calendar is based on the moon. It’s expected to last from the evening of Sunday, March 10, to around Tuesday, April 9, this year.


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Term of the week: Oak Flat

Oak Flat is a sacred site near Superior, Arizona, that’s at the center of an ongoing legal battle. A group of Native Americans called Apache Stronghold is fighting to block the federal government from transferring the site to a mining company.

“Oak Flat is like Mount Sinai to us — our most sacred site where we connect with our Creator, our faith, our families, and our land,” said Wendsler Nosie of Apache Stronghold in a recent press release.

Nosie and others in his coalition argue that the land transfer would violate religious freedom law by leading to the destruction of a sacred site. Federal officials, on the other hand, say that their plan does not amount to a substantial burden on religious practice.

On Friday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Apache Stronghold in a decision that allows the land transfer to move forward. Apache Stronghold has vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.


What I’m reading...

As part of their broader effort to combat illegal immigration along the U.S.-Mexico border, Texas officials are suing a Catholic nonprofit that runs migrant shelters. Religion News Service reported on the legal battle, which has implications for religious freedom.

Last month, I wrote about cathedrals in England becoming something like nightclubs part of the time to host silent discos. Last week, The Associated Press wrote about a nightclub that’s something like a church: It plays Christian music and prohibits drinking and smoking.

I’m a big fan of Kate Bowler and the religious blessings she writes to suit unique situations. As I await the mood boost that comes with sunshine and spring weather, I will read and reflect on one of her recent creations: “A blessing for not your best self.”


Odds and ends

I’m mesmerized by this graphic from Sportico showing how many Americans participate in sports like basketball, soccer and pickleball each year — and how participation has changed over time.

Interested in a joke that combines “Dune: Part Two” with religion? I’ve got you covered.