Football night lights

When a large religious group sets aside entire month for fasting, you can imagine there will be physical implications for people who might need to eat, like pregnant women and athletes.

Last week, Brad looked at a story about Ramadan's impact on Minnesota Vikings' backup safety Husain Abdullah, encouraging reporters to look beyond the generic holiday stories and find those stories that surprise.

Mick McCabe of the Detroit Free-Press picked up a fascinating story about how a high school football team will move practice to 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. to accommodate its Muslims players.

Dearborn Fordson quarterback and safety Mohammad Faraj fully understands and appreciates Ramadan.

"Ramadan means we go through the struggles our prophet went through for 30 days -- no drinking or no food," he said. "Unfortunately, we have to do it for several hours, but, hey, he had to do it for that long period of time."

Yes, but with all due respect, the prophet never had to try to play high school football with no food or water.

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims go without food and drink from sunrise to sunset -- an issue if you are trying to play football in the scorching temperatures Michigan has had this summer.

McCabe does a nice job of gathering quotes from the Muslim players on the team, looking that the physical element. For whatever reason, though, it seems like a basic fact is missing: how many Muslim players are on the team? Did the coach adjust the schedule for just a few players or for the majority of the team?

The reporter says that one parent has complained, but beyond that, I wonder how the other team members feel about midnight practice. Rearranging practice is not just about accommodating a religious group; it's asking non-Muslims to rearrange their schedules as well. Why not quote some of them? I also wondered whether the story could provide further context on the number of Muslims in that school's region, whether there's indication that the number is growing.

Jeff Karoub of the Associated Press also picked up the story and produced a companion video. The reporter includes the fact that the coach is Muslim and that the majority of the team are Muslims, interesting details the Free Press overlooked. Remember Miss USA earlier this year? The reporter found her brother.

For Rami Fakih, a wide receiver and defensive back, the nocturnal regimen has taken some adjustment but for different reasons. The brother of recently crowned Miss USA Rima Fakih said he had to think twice before hitting the fountain.

"Oh yeah," he said. "Then I remembered, you know. I looked up. There's no sun. I can drink. I can eat."

With that, he walked off the field and into the darkness with plans to grab a quick bite with friends at a local bakery.

In this case, the local newspaper may have published first, but the Associated Press took the story a bit higher.

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