Sunday, January 21, 2007

Torah-Im-Pro-Sports?

Bob Miller was kind enough to e-mail me Friday his thoughts on TIPS(Torah im Pro Sports). Commenters are kindly asked to exercise restraint on a topic which often turns out to be a rather contentious one.

Today, Indy is gripped by pro football mania, with our Mayor urging us all to wear blue clothing and businesses to fly blue banners, in the run-up to the AFC Championship game here against the hated so-called Patriots. Since dina d'malchusa dina, I have done my bit (easy 'cause my weekday shirts are blue anyway). The Rolls-Royce aircraft engine plant where I work automatically has lots of blue and white; the R-R corporate colors and the Colts colors are basically the same.

So what do pro sports have to do with Torah? Do they foster good or bad attitudes and midos among the fan(atic)s? Are they a form of bitul Torah in any case? A shul we once belonged to sponsored a group trip to a Detroit Red Wings hockey game, complete with shiurium from the shul's Rav between periods. In our present shul, we have some adherents of an extreme avoda zara cult (NY Yankees) who are otherwise solid citizens and minyan-goers.

As a fan of another NY team (yes, some will also call this avoda zara!), I recall listening on the radio to the Mets' National League playoff series with the Atlanta Braves in 1999, when we were living in Houston. As a game was seesawing back and forth, with pitchers on both sides failing at their basic task, the arch demon John Rocker of the Braves began to pitch in relief. I really lost it, screaming at the Mets' batters to send one up the middle and decapitate Rocker. The batters either didn't hear me or had other plans, so the only real damage done was the Mets' loss.

This got me to thinking. I'm a basically rational person. What strange urge made me act like a raving loony? So I have toned it down a bit since, but have not yet sworn off spectating altogether. Readers arise and please enlighten me about the true Torah view of this topic, as I am biased.

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