Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Boys Following Sports

Very interesting discussion over on Joseph Schick's blog about the pros and cons of Yeshiva guys following sports. He quotes Rabbi Yosef Bechhofer of Chicago as being anti-sports because of kids idolizing the athletes rather than the gedolim.

I've heard other reasons for being anti-sports. My 8th grade rebbi used to call it "avoda zara." I think it was because of how obsessed some kids got in following sports, watching every game, listening to WFAN all day, memorizing all the stats, etc. His other beef was how silly it was to care so much. Does it really affect my life whether the five guys on the Heat put the ball in the basket more times than the guys on the Nets? Or whether the Yankees or the Red Sox end up in first place? Does it make the world a better place?

I think all of the above points have some validity, but nonetheless I'm very pro-following sports.

The way I see it, some kids will be motivated to learn Torah and enjoy it. Perhaps they'll enjoy it to the point where they'll talk about it outside of class and even be willing to learn about gedolim, collect gedolim pictures, and eventually be like the gedolim.

But most kids, especially the 10-11 year olds, don't have the zitzfleish to sit and learn. Unless they have a dynamic rebbi, chances are that it's not something they'll enjoy and look forward to doing on a daily basis. So like most kids their age, they'll be looking for diversions and distractions outside of class.

And compared to the other distractions out there, sports is the most tame. These days, kids who aren't into sports will gravitate towards TV, movies, and music. And 90% of that stuff is pure filth. Some kids, especially the nerds, might get into books. But even those are often filled with questionable material. And video games are an option, too, but these days, some games have gotten a lot more filthy and violent since the days of Mario and Pac-Man.

So sports is the cleanest option out there. Maybe there's a little pritzus (some NFL games show cheerleaders for about 30 seconds, the occasional racy issue of SI), but it's nothing compared to the average reality show on TV. It's still good, clean, family fun.

And as for kids getting obsessed with sports and idolizing athletes, that's not an argument. If a kid's not into learning, there are plently of other things that he'll get obsessed with. And many of those things are far worse than sports.

For example, while most of my buddies were into sports at ages 6-7, I didn't get into it until I was 9. Was I a future gadol till then, only to be tainted by the lure of the Yankees and Mets? C'mon! Before baseball, I was obsessed with Nintendo. I would play video games every night for hours.

A buddy of mine was a rebbi for a bunch of Persian eighth-graders. Because of their cultural background, they had no interest in sports. Instead they were obsessed with all sorts of female celebrities like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, etc. Halevai that those kids would be obsessed with sports!

So basically, if my kid isn't that motivated to learn about gemara and the gedolim, I'd rather have him be obsessed with A-Rod than with Lindsay Lohan.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to consider the culture of the NBA, with the loud music and tatooed players - don't know if that's something I want my kids following. Yes, I agree that following basketball in and of itself is fine, but when they go to games and see all that filth, I'm not so sure it's better than reality TV. MLB, NFL, and NHL I agree are okay. But the culture of basketball is such that it appeals to the lowlifes in the ghetto. Not for a frum kid.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Outoftown said...

I agree that sports are a better pasttime than MTV, videogames or online chatting. I have no problem with my son loving baseball. We go to games as much as possible and we listen on the radio all the time. Basketball is a little more objectionable to me, but as long as it is on the radio, fine. Same with football. The fact that you can follow sports without a TV is the best part to me.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:41 PM  
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6:09 PM  
Blogger Vince Kidd said...

I agree 100 percent. Sports is amazing, I follow it a lot, and the other stuff can lead to bad things.

7:09 PM  

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