LANCASTER COUNTY, SC — A tradition before high school football games in Lancaster County is causing controversy.
For years, football fans have ushered in every game with a prayer, but now the school district says it will enforce a decades-old policy that would prevent that from happening.
Channel 9’s Erika Jackson spoke to fans who said they are confused by the sudden change.
District officials said they recently learned that an announcer at a high school has been praying before games.
Fans who attended Friday night’s football game against Andrew Jackson High School said their tradition of praying before the game was abruptly canceled before kickoff.
“People just complained and wanted to know why. What happened? Who made the decision? State Rep. Sandy McGarry said.
McGarry said he has grandchildren in the district. She said parents and grandparents of the students have been calling her office because they are upset about the change.
“This is a 22-year problem. Why has this suddenly stopped now? Final point. It’s not like we’re going to talk about it. It’s a full stop,” McGarry said.
However, the school district said this is not a sudden change. He said he is enforcing a policy that was put in place in 2000.
It requires announcers to read the athlete’s creed followed by a moment of silence before sporting events.
District officials said they recently learned that some announcers have not followed that procedure and instead prayed over the public address system before games.
The news quickly spread on social media and attracted people from both sides of the issue.
One woman commented on a Facebook post on the subject saying in part, “I think the moment of silence is something we can all agree on and everyone pray or whatever during that moment, but the silence should be respected”.
“Those who don’t want it don’t have to pray. You do not have to do it. It’s up to you, it’s an individual problem,” McGarry said.
Fans said they are counting down to Andrew Jackson’s next start, but this issue could prevent the likes of Cecil Boster from returning to the volunteer stadium.
“I don’t know what to do. Everything is a mess with this whole world. It’s a mess,” Boster said.
The school district said enforcing this rule keeps Lancaster County in compliance with its decades-old directive and the law.
He added that the district respects the right of everyone present at school-sponsored events.
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