A.1 As you enter your team’s dressing room prior to a varsity football game, you see your head coach, kneeling on the floor, leading a prayer in which he invokes Jesus’s name. When questioned the next day, he responded that he was just following a request from his athletes. What are the legal implications of this situation?
Here is the key legal questions in this scenario. Did the coach violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment? Is the coach an employee of the high school? Is the football team on public school property? Is the head coach in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment?
In the Engel v. Vital, 370 U.S. 421(1962) case, the public school required that the students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and a nondenominational prayer. Justice Black, held that school-sponsored prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. (The Oyez Project)
Yes, the Head Coach kneeling down to lead team prayer is a violation. When you have a public school employee endorsing a particular religion which in turn violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. When asked why he was praying with the team; he replied that the team requested. I would ask what role are you're performing a Head coach or ministry leader? As AD, I wanted to make sure all student-athletes that any religious activities, the team engaged in are strictly voluntary, and that nonparticipation will not affect how an individual is treated by coaches or the rest of the team. I need to make it clear that the right of all student athletes be respected. (Scholand, 2006)
There are certain practices that a head coach performs can be a problem, even if no one complains. The last thing that I want from my coaches is to make any student-a...
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...d offense, a visit to the counselor and suspension for the rest of the season. In the event, a third offense happens, indefinite suspension from athletic competition. I feel this will address the needs of the student-athlete and allow them a chance to fix the issues at hand.(Drogosh, 2013)
Drogosh, K. (2013, 02 13). Safe & strong. Retrieved from http://www.athleticmanagement.com/2013/02/22/safe_strong/index.php
NIAAA LT 508 Section II Federal Constitutional Law pg 79.100
The Oyez Project. (n.d.). Engel v. Vitale. Retrieved from http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1961/1961_468/
The Oyez Project. (2014, 01 24). Vernonia school district v. acton. Retrieved from http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_94_590
Scholand, G. (2006, 02 18). Praying in public. Retrieved from http://www.athleticmanagement.com/2007/02/20/praying_in_public/index.php