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Let 'em pray: debate among public and private schools not centered on religion, just football.

It's not the prayers. It's the points. Here in the heart of the Bible Belt Bible belt
Those sections of the United States, especially in the South and Middle West, where Protestant fundamentalism is widely practiced.

Bible belt
, the public vs. private school debate seems to have less to do with the Christian affiliation of the private institutions and more about their apparent ability to steamroll steam·roll·er  
a. A steam-driven machine equipped with a heavy roller for smoothing road surfaces.

b. A similar machine with an internal-combustion engine.

 public school opponents on the football field.

Organized, pregame prayers cause a lot less consternation than, say, defending Shiloh Christian's spread offense. And if there are any problems surrounding sur·round  
tr.v. sur·round·ed, sur·round·ing, sur·rounds
1. To extend on all sides of simultaneously; encircle.

2. To enclose or confine on all sides so as to bar escape or outside communication.

 prayer on the field, they have proven much easier to solve than leveling the same playing field.

Multipliers, transfer rules and classification changes have been put in play in recent years in an effort to minimize the perceived advantage that private schools, who can offer athletes financial aid, have over their public brethren. But no one is really complaining about the private schools' edge when it comes to expressions of faith.

"I don't think it's really an issue with any of them," Shiloh Christian coach and athletic director Athletic director (commonly, "athletics director") is a position at many American colleges and universities, as well as in larger high schools and middle schools, which oversees the work of the coaches and related staff involved in intercollegiate or interscholastic athletic  Josh JOSH Joshua
JOSH Job Scheduling Hierarchically
 Floyd said. "I wouldn't say anybody, anywhere has ever brought it up with me."

Private, parochial schools parochial school (pərō`kēəl), school supported by a religious body. In the United States such schools are maintained by a number of religious groups, including Lutherans, Seventh-day Adventists, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and  like Shiloh, which is affiliated with the First Baptist Church First Baptist Church may refer to many churches: Canada
  • First Baptist Church of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
United States
  • First Baptist Church (Bay Minette, Alabama)
  • First Baptist Church (Greenville, Alabama)
 in Springdale, aren't bound by the same laws governing gov·ern  
v. gov·erned, gov·ern·ing, gov·erns
1. To make and administer the public policy and affairs of; exercise sovereign authority in.

 schools that accept federal or state funding, so they don't face restrictions on school-organized, pregame prayer.

That means a local minister or student leader can conduct an organized prayer over the stadium public address system at a private school home game.

Yet the law doesn't ban prayer at public school games.

"If it's student led, I think the law says, if it's student led, prayer is fine," Arkansas Activities Association
This organization is often addressed by the initials AAA. For other uses of this term, see AAA (disambiguation).

The Arkansas Activities Association (locally known as the AAA
 executive director

Lance Taylor said. "As king as it's not over the PA system."


The AAA AAA: see American Automobile Association.

(Triple A) A common single-cell battery used in a myriad of electronic devices of all variety. Like its double A (AA) cousin, it provides 1.5 volts of DC power. When used in series, the voltage is multiplied.
 has more than 300 high schools in its membership and 21 are private schools. Naturally, a private, church-affiliated school will play more public than private school opponents in a given season and will have to travel to schools where organized, pregame prayers are not allowed.

Floyd said his team solves that by simply having a team prayer in the locker Things commonly known as lockers include:
  • A type of storage compartment with a lock usually used to store clothing. When a room is dedicated to containing many lockers it is often called either a locker room or changing room.
  • A Bicycle locker
  • A locking differential.

"I've seen many public schools do the same thing," Floyd said.

Taylor said prayer has never become such an issue that the AAA has had to weigh in with a ruling or guideline guideline Medtalk A series of recommendations by a body of experts in a particular discipline. See Cancer screening guidelines, Cardiac profile guidelines, Gatekeeper guidelines, Harvard guidelines, Transfusion guidelines. .

"No, not at all. That's up to each individual school district," Taylor said.

Not that public-private school issues haven't kept the AAA's hands full.

After a season in which Shiloh Christian won its fifth state title in a decade, taking the 4A championship and beating public school Berryville 65-0 in a regular-season game, the public vs. private school uproar got a little louder.

Berryville put forth a proposal requiring schools that offer need-based financial aid to play each other for state championships while the AAA's board of directors countered with a proposal to tighten transfer rules. Taylor has said publicly he felt high-profile

athletes transferring at will in grades 8-10 was causing more problems than the financial aid offered by schools like Shiloh. Floyd said he agrees in principle with rules governing transfers, but once a rule is in place he would like to see it given a chance to work.

Whatever the issues pulling public and private schools apart, it is the prayers, however briefly, that bring them together. On most Friday nights, even during the heat of the postseason, players and coaches from opposing teams continue to huddle for a voluntary word of thanks.

"I've been to a lot of football finals and basketball finals and I've seen them all huddle tap," Taylor said.

SCHOOL                            CLASS               LOCATION

ARKANSAS BAPTIST                     3A            Little Rock
CATHOLIC HIGH FOR BOYS               7A            Little Rock
CENTRAL ARKANSAS CHRISTIAN           5A      North Little Rock
CONWAY CHRISTIAN                     2A                 Conway
EPISCOPAL COLLEGIATE SCHOOL          3A            Little Rock
NARDING ACADEMY                      3A                 Searcy
LITTLE ROCK CHRISTIAN ACADEMY        5A            Little Rock
LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL                 2A            Little Rock
PULASKI ACADEMY                      5A            Little Rock
SHILOH CHRISTIAN                     4A             Springdale
SUBIACO ACADEMY                      4A                Subiaco
UNION CHRISTIAN ACADEMY              2A             Fort Smith
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Title Annotation:HIGH SCHOOL: Faith and Football
Author:Traub, Todd
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Jul 13, 2009
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