Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - Fan, Fantastic or Fanatical? Just Ask Joakim if He Was Joking

As regular readers of this blog are aware, the Monday post was usually devoted to sports with highlights and analysis of the Max Kellerman show which formerly aired on 1050 ESPN Radio. Although Max resigned from 1050 more than a year ago (he has recently resurfaced on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles), I have tried to continue the tradition of linking sports to Torah which I believe was an undercurrent of the Max Kellerman show.

On Sunday night during the game between the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls, Joakim Noah was being harassed and harangued by a Miami fan. Eventually, Noah had enough of the verbal abuse and he used profanity and a gay slur in responding to the fan. As everything is recorded, the NBA caught the infraction and imposed a $50,o00 fine on Noah.

In commenting on the give and take between Noah and the fan (this was prior to the NBA's announcement of the fine) the guys on the Mike and Mike show were discussing how fans feel that since they pay significant amounts of money for their seats, they have the right to say whatever they want to the players. This attitude has led to the rapid increase in the number of player-fan verbal altercations. In mind, it has also reduced the chances of a parent bringing a young child to a professional ball game. When I was younger, the fans in the "blue seats" were using profanity, but the fans in the lower level seats were more subdued. Now, I have to really police what is said around my children as I would not want to have them hear certain words or think that it is acceptable to speak in this manner. But I digress.

As part of the show, the guys brought on frequent guest Dave Winfield and asked him his thoughts on Noah's actions and whether he had ever been goaded into responding to a fan. Winfield responded that when he was playing, if a fan was being abusive, the player would try harder to succeed and upon doing something significant, the player would gesture towards the fan, in effect saying - I showed you.

Winfield also told a story about how during a spring training season he had been the subject of taunting by a particular fan. Towards the end of spring training, Winfield stepped up to bat and looked directly at the abusive fan. As that fan was looking back at him, Winfield's accomplice smashed a cream pie in the fan's face (no statement was made as to whether it was edible or shaving cream).

The discussion about the fans and their lack of civility towards the players reminded me of a vort that I heard from Rabbi Frand on Bechukosai. At the end of the tochacha portion of Parsha Bechukosai, the Torah sums up the topic by stating at Vayikra 26:46 - these are the laws that Hashem commanded Moshe. R' Frand commented that this would have been a perfect ending for the parsha and even for Sefer Vayikra. However, the Torah then continues and discusses the concept of Erchin - valuation of people. The obvious question is why stick the discussion of Erchin here?

R' Frand answered his question by quoting the Kotsker Rebbi who explained that a person, even when he has been degraded and gone through troubles, must realize that others have value. This is the reason that Erchin follows the tochaha - even though the person has been through suffering, he must realize that others have value. If he can maintain this thought, he can maintain his dignity, even while others around him do not.

If you have seen this post being carried on another site please feel free to click to find other articles on the kosherbeers blogsite. Hey its free and you can push my counter numbers up!

No comments: