Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday's Musings on Sports - One Minute, Just One Minute

I am not that much of a basketball fan and I can't say that I have more than a passing interest in the  NBA, but I heard an anecdote this morning which really struck a chord with me.

One of the best players on the Chicago Bulls' roster is Derrick Rose. Last year, Rose suffered a significant knee injury during a playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Rose underwent surgery to repair his torn ACL in May 2012. An athlete who undergoes this kind of surgery can generally be out of the lineup from eight to twelve months.

Although the Bulls were without one of their best players, they managed to make the playoffs and secure the 5th seed. In the first round of this year's NBA playoffs, the Bulls squeaked by the 4th seeded Brooklyn Nets in seven games. In surviving the series, the Bulls lost other players to injury and the roster was even more depleted.

As the season wore on, the rumors began to percolate that Rose would return for the end of the season or perhaps for the playoffs. Rose himself fueled these rumors by stating that he would not rule out returning for the playoffs. Now that the Bulls have advanced to the second round, speculation has been growing stronger that Rose may actually return. However, the question on everyone's mind is what is holding Derrick Rose back from playing? Is he sitting out because the knee is not completely healed and there is a danger of doing further damage? Or is Rose sitting out because he does not feel 100% and is worried that he will not be able to play to his usual level of greatness?

The anecdote which caught my attention was told by Jeff Van Gundy. He said that when he was an assistant to Pat Riley there was a player who had been injured and came to the game in a suit, rather than the team uniform. During the pregame meeting, Riley asked the player why he was wearing a suit. The player responded that he was injured and could not play. Riley then asked the player - if I needed you for one minute in the game, could you give me one minute of play? The player responded that he could.  Riley then said to the player - so why are you wearing a suit?

The Riley story made me think about the concept of learning Torah and those who put it off because they have other things to do which they believe are more important. If you were to ask someone if they learned today, you may get a response that the person is too busy. But if you ask the person if he had five minutes in the day that could be used for learning, you would probably get an answer of yes. However, that answer would soon be followed by - what could five minutes of learning do for me? 

The answer to the responsive question is that the five minutes of learning IS important. It is understandable that people work long hours to support their families. Although the gemara talks about splitting ones time into thirds in order to learn and work and take care of personal needs, today's economy and environment make that impractical. But the five minutes of Torah learning has a value all of its own, both in spiritual growth and in helping a person to understand more about religion and why we do the things that we do. The only challenge is convincing yourself to give the five minutes that you know are available.

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