That’s Amaury News and Commentary: Freedom of Religion is Older than Any sports League

In 1965 LA Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game One of the World Series because it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish Holiday part of exercising his religious rights and beliefs. Koufax is seen here in this photo, the Hall of Famer smiles as the Los Angeles Dodgers unveil a Sandy Koufax statue in the Centerfield Plaza to honor the Hall of Famer and three-time Cy Young Award winner prior to a baseball game between the Cleveland Guardians and the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Keith Birmingham/The Orange County Register via AP)

By Amaury Pi Gonzalez

In the United States of America, freedom of religion is older than any of the sports leagues in the country and is protected under the US Constitution.

Recently James Reimer of the San José Sharks refused to take part in wearing Pride-theme jerseys during LGBT night at SAP Center, Reimer cited conflicted Christian beliefs.

“…In this specific instance, I am choosing not to endorse something that is counter to my personal convictions which are based on the Bible, the highest authority in my life.

I strongly believe that every person has value and worth, and the LGBTQIA+ community, like all others, should be welcomed in all aspects of the game of hockey.”

The  San José Sharks accepted his decision and added this statement “Our hope is that this content will serve as a reminder that there are issues more important than goals, highlights, and wins,” said the team on Twitter. The evening also included partnerships with local LGBTQ+ organizations, themed lighting and music at the arena, and pride-themed merchandise for sale.  I believe the San José Sharks handled it correctly.

In this quick social media world, when some people are just waiting to disagree as divided as the country is today, we sometimes forget how important this is to the fiber of this country and to its citizens. There are many cases, of athletes exercising their religious beliefs, here below are two superstars of their respective sports.

–In 1965 LA Dodgers southpaw Sandy Koufax refused to pitch in Game One of the World Series because it was Yom Kippur, a Jewish Holiday.

–In 1960s Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the US Armed Forces. He refused to cite his religion (Islam) and was forbidden from serving. It cost him. Boxing stripped Ali of his heavyweight title, however, the US Military respected his decision. Ali was one of the most famous people around the world, not only in boxing circles. Twitter and all the other “instant” media outlets did not exist. There were some that disagreed (it is America after all) but by far it was accepted and people moved on with their lives.

US Constitution – First Amendment.

Personal religious beliefs are protected by the laws of the United States under the First Amendment of the Constitution: 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.

Amaury Pi Gonzalez is the lead play by play talent for the Oakland A’s Spanish Radio network heard on 1010 KIQI San Francisco and 990 KATD Pittsburg and catch his podcasts Tuesdays at

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