Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday's Musings on Sports - The Dirt Always Wins

Astute fans of the NBA are aware that tonight is not the opening night of the season for any particular team. Tonight is not even the first night that any NBA team has played at home, since every team in the NBA has already played at least five home games. Yet tonight is a night that many Brooklyn Nets fans have been belatedly waiting for. Because tonight is finally opening night.

After years of planning and nomadic living in Newark, the newly minted "Brooklyn Nets" finally completed their new home at the intersection of Flatbush The NBA had indulged the Nets by scheduling the Knicks to play the opening game for both teams at the new arena. The game was scheduled for Thursday November 1, 2012, but was postponed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The postponement of the game was not without controversy. Immediately after the storm, the Nets management had indicated that they wanted the game to go forward, notwithstanding the fact that the City had barely begun to clean up after the storm and the LIRR and subways were only running on a limited schedule. However, Mayor Bloomberg stepped in and requested that the game be cancelled because he felt that the City was not ready for a basketball game in downtown Brooklyn on Thursday. Curiously, the Mayor had no problem with the Knick game against the Miami Heat going forward on Friday. I am unsure how the traffic and neighborhood disruption was more severe in downtown Brooklyn where they had power, whereas Manhattan below 30th Street (two block south of the Garden) did not have electricity. Still the Nets did not argue with the mayor and acceded to his wishes.
Meanwhile, the Mayor caught his comeuppance for his utter arrogance in insisting that the New York City Marathon go forward on the Sunday after the storm, notwithstanding the utter devastation in Staten Island. The public was ruthless in its (correct) criticism of the Mayor's use of police to secure the parade route, while people were still trapped in their homes. The media was even more cutting and several papers ran pictures of generators which had been deployed to support the marathon instead of giving life sustaining power to neighborhoods without electricity.
After suffering through two days of withering attacks, the Mayor finally agreed to cancel the Marathon on Friday afternoon, just a few hours before the Knick game was played.
As an avid sports fan, I had significant issues with the way that Mayor Bloomberg appeared to play favorites in pushing forward with some sporting events, while burying others. But to his credit, the Nets outspoken owner, Mikhail Prokorov, did not speak out or question the decision.
So tonight the Nets finally played their "opening night" game and defeated the Knicks. I have the feeling that had this game been played on the true "opening night", the result might have been different as the Nets have begun to gel as a team over the last two weeks. By not pushing forward and demanding that the game be played, the W wound up in the Nets column instead of the Knicks'.
The decision to keep one's mouth shut when necessary has a deep connection to Parshas Vayeitzei. In the beginning of the parsha, Hashem tells Yaakov that his children will be like the dirt of the land. This reference is rather puzzling, since it follows more flowery metaphors like the stars in the sky or the sand on the beach. R' Mansour explains that the reason for the reference is to tell Yaakov that the Jews will be like the dirt-although it is constantly stepped on, the dirt does not go away and eventually will cover the person doing the walking, because the dirt always wins.
We see a similar concept by Rachel when she is confronted by Leah in connection with Rachel's request for the dudaim flowers. When Rachel makes her request, Leah responds - you stole my husband and now you want my son's flowers? If I was Rachel,  I would have smacked her across the face, both literally and figuratively. It would have well been within Rachel's right to respond, "your husband? If I did not give you the signs to save you from embarrassment, I would have married him first!" Instead, Rachel keeps her mouth shut and not long after she is rewarded with her first child.
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