As Tony Dorrzapf has discovered, there's no clear line between religion and soccer in some parts of suburban Washington.
In the last few days, Dorrzapf, a research chemist who volunteered to head the National Capital Soccer League, the premier children's soccer organization in the Washington area, has been getting phone calls from coaches, parents, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Defense League and an aide to Rep. Michael Barnes, all protesting The Schedule.
The Schedule, a delicately balanced thing that makes order out of 330 teams and some 5,000 soccer players and is constantly in danger of collapsing, demands that 150 soccer games be played this Sunday, the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
Jewish parents and coaches (some with championship-caliber teams that might have to forfeit crucial games if their Jewish players can't suit up) were furious, accusing the league president of "insensitivity to religious concerns."
Dorrzapf, caught between religious fervor and The Schedule, which took 10 people two grueling days to draw up last month, was reduced to invoking help from on high. "Hopefully, the Lord will look down and make it rain on Sunday," he said.
What rain can do, and league officials apparently dare not, is cancel Sunday's competition.
The NCSL includes teams in suburban Maryland and Virginia. Because more than 50 teams in Maryland alone asked that they not have to play on Saturday, all but 10 games were canceled. The schedule-makers neglected to give byes to teams with Jewish players for competition on Sunday, the second of the two-day holiday.
And now that the league continues to adhere to The Schedule, many Jewish parents and coaches are upset.
"Creating a schedule; is that what soccer is all about?" asks Harvey Resnik, a clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University, manager of the Bethesda Minutemen and, not least, father of the the team's goalkeeper, Seth. "I thought it was about ideals, values and character."
Dorrzapf, and the league's executive committee, decided over the weekend not to tamper with the schedule because it was so difficult to create in the first place, and would require an enormous amount of work to reshuffle playing times, referees and open fields.
"It's got to be something really major to change the schedule," the president said. "Until you've been through it once, you do not have any concept of what it takes. People have attempted to come up with a method of computerizing it and have thrown up their hands."
Suburban parents take their childrens' soccer seriously. The NCSL has grown tenfold in less than decade and produced five national champions. One league coach who makes a living as a dentist is said to leave patients in the chair with their mouths open to take phone calls on soccer matters. A parent once offered a Montgomery coach as much money as it would take to bring in professional help -- coaching, not psychiatric. Assault charges were recently filed in Loudon County by a referee who was attacked by an irate parent.