Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday's Musings on Sports - The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Although not truly a sports issue, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has spanned many genres and has even permeated the sports world. Although the first sports persona who I saw take the challenge was the curmudgeony Bill Belichick who took the plunge during the first week of August, the ice buckets have been flying across all the major and minor sports.

Unless you live under a rock, you have a heard about the premise of the challenge - agree to dunk yourself under a bucket of cold water or donate money for ALS research. The challenge was the brainchild of Peter Frates and Pat Quinn (both ALS patients) as a way to raise awareness of this horrible disease and to raise money for medical research to find a cure.

Some of the notable athletes who have taken the challenge in various public and creative ways are Kevin Durant, Lebron James (who unsuccessfully nominated the POTUS to take the challenge), Caroline Wozniacki, Roger Goodell and LA Kings forward Marian Gaborik who used a zamboni for the challenge.

While driving home from Camp M last week, I heard a discussion about an article that ran in the NY Times which quoted Arielle Pardes who opined that “[t]here are a lot of things wrong with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but the most annoying is that it’s basically narcissism masked as altruism.”

The skepticism related by Ms. Pardes was challenged by Mike & Mike who had received word from the ALS foundation that in the month since the Ice Bucket Challenge had commenced, they had raised as much money as the entire 2013 calendar year. Additionally, Mike Greenberg observed that people were donating money for a worthwhile charitable cause and it should not matter what their motivation was for making the donation.

The story reminds me of a vort in connection with Parshas Tezaveh wherein it states that Betzalel made calculations as to the gold, silver and copper which were donated for the mishkan. The rishonim teach that those who donated for pure reasons were the "gold" and their donations went for the highest purpose, wherein those who had donated but wanted recognition were the silver and those who solely donated for public accolade were the copper.

The bottom line is that all the money was used for holy spiritual purposes, but those with altruistic reasons for donating received a greater spiritual reward in that their donations were used for a higher spiritual purpose. 

Similarly, it does not truly matter why a person takes the ALS challenge. What matters is that the money is used for charitable purposes - fighting and finding a cure for this horrible disease.

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