Hello everyone, my name is Jonathan Luszcz and in this presentation, I am going to present problem 7-2 in the textbook Sports Law by Patrick K. Thornton. Problem 7-2 is in the chapter about discrimination, however this particular type of discrimination will focus on religious discrimination.
Kathy Mitchell files a lawsuit for religious discrimination against the governing body of her high school. Here is the scenario…Mitchell is a student-athlete at Lamar High School. She is an honor student and was selected to the All-District team. She is also a devoted Christian who is a regular at church and actively participates in the community through her local youth group.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3301/3301000606_172ce2e036.jpg As part of a way to express her faith and devotion to Christianity, she wears a cross around her neck on a chain. During practices and games she also wears that same cross.
Before the start of playing an archrival high school, the opposing coach requests the referee for Mitchell to remove her cross. The coach cited a rule of the local high school athletic association that states and I quote, “during practice or competitive event, studen-athletes are prohibited from wearing any kind of jewelry.” Mitchell refused to remove the cross from her neck which resulted in the referee forfeiting the match at the expense of Lamar High…
In this problem, one needs to note the first amendment of the United States Constitution which states and I quote, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. In the scope of this problem, this pertains to the protection of student-athletes against an endorsed religion, individual freedom of belief, and freedom to practice a religion.
How can Mitchell defend herself. First, the item in question, the cross is a symbol of Christianity. By forcing to her to take off the cross, one is violating her right to express her religion. Also, Mitchell can request that she can tape down her necklace so it does not pose as a dangerous hazard to herself and others while keeping her religious artifact on her. Taping down items are common with medical alert bracelets. In addition, in the rules, jewerly is not defined very well and it just says jewelry. There is nothing mentioned about religious items or medical bracelets. Finally, other officials have let her play with jewelry before which creates a double standard to the rules. However, if she poses these defenses…
She will still lose. By wearing the cross, Mitchell puts herself and fellow athletes in danger of injury whether a player hits the cross directly or some body part gets tangled in the chain. Also, by taking off the cross, it does not violate any religious laws that would question the practice of the Christian faith by any means. What needs to revised is the association’s rules about religious items on players. Even though I think the referee was unreasonable in forfeiting the match, he or she could of taken other precautions to remedy the situation besides forfeiting the match. From the problem, it seemed that the jewelry problem was an unenforced rule considering Mitchell has played with jewelry before but it is a rule that officials have multiple views on.
I hope you found the presentation helpful in your understanding about religious discrimination and how it is applied to sports. I thank you for your time and consideration and will be open to answer any questions you may have.
Case Study 7-2: Religious Discrimination
S P O R T S L A W
CASE STUDY – PROBLEM 2-3
• Kathy Mitchell is a
• Devoted and active
Christian in the
• To show her
devotion of faith, she
wears a cross
around her neck on
• She wears this cross
during games as
• Before the start of the
game, archrival asks
referee to tell Mitchell
to take off the cross
• Mitchell refuses to
take the cross off,
results in the school
• Protects student-athletes from a state-
• Protects every individual’s right to freedom
• Protects the individual’s freedom to
practice his [or her] religion
What Is Her Defense?
• Prevention of
expressing her religion
• Does not danger her or
others (if taped down)
• Cross is not worn as
jewelry, worn as a
devotion to religion
• Unenforced rule
First amendement to the united states
constitution. (2010, October 24). Retrieved
Thornton, P.K. (Ed.). (2011). Sports law. Sudbury,
MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.