Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday's Musings on Sports - The Strike is Over, But What Happens Next?

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.

As the NFL strike works it way back from the feared "labor Armageddon" towards the inevitable start of the NFL season, there has been an interesting story line developing among the NFL players. It is self evident that when two warring factions reach a truce, there will always be a few hard liners who maintain ill will towards the other side and will not want to compromise. On the owners' side, there has been speculation that some of the owners will not approve the draft labor agreement. However, if the pundits are to be believed, the number of owners who will vote against the new deal is less than the 25% required to defeat the vote.

On the players side, the situation is much more fluid. While the NFL Union (once it recertifies) will undoubtedly ratify the draft proposal, this will not end the lockout related litigation. In addition to challenging the NFL's method of collective bargaining, there were lawsuits filed on behalf of individual players, including Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Logan Mankins and Vincent Jackson, which must be resolved. The media has been reporting that some of these players are looking for cash payouts to settle the lawsuit. Other players reportedly are asking that they be declared immediate free agents, while still others are demanding that the "franchise tag" not be applied to them.

The problem with the position of the players is that they were selected to sue on behalf of the other players and their stubbornness could have an impact on the ending of the labor stalemate. Already, dissension has begun among the players with tweets about how selfish some of the named plaintiffs are acting.

The issue of the players and their individual requests reminded me of a vort that I heard in a Rabbi Mansour shiur (available on ) about who can be a true kan'aee (loosely translated as a zealot). At the end of Parshas Balak we read about Pinchas who stepped up and killed Zimri and Kozbi with a spear and as a result, stopped the plague which had killed 24, 000 Jews. R' Mansour theorized that in order for the actor to be deemed a kan'aee and not criticized or punished for his actions, he must be acting solely for Hashem's glory and not to further or advance any personal goals. R' Mansour contrasted Pinchas with the actions of Shimon and Levi who wiped out the city of Shechem after Dina was violated. When they were confronted by their father about their actions, Shimon and Levi betrayed their emotions by questioning their father as to how this could be allowed to happen to their sister. While Ya'akov does not immediately respond to them, he does take them to task in Parshas Vayechi when he gives the brachos. R' Mansour explained that the brothers' words betrayed their supposedly pure motives as their speech indicated that they acted because Dina was their sister, and not merely to defend the honor of a Jewish girl. Thus they were deprived of the full extent of the brachos that other tribes received, based on their improper motives.

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