Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday's Musings on Sports - Stupid Sports Tricks and the Miracle No One Knew About

For some reason,the 4th of July seems to bring out the "stupid" in people. From stories about creative uses of fireworks to the gastronomical event known as "competitive eating" there are always stories about people who do wacky and often foolish things. This  sports world was not immune from these events as this past weekend two athletes were injured doing rather foolish things and a third was exposed as a hidden fool.

The first story from the sports world involved NY Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre Paul (aka JPP). I have thought of JPP as a talented, if somewhat injury prone athlete. When healthy, he was one of the game's fiercest pass rushers. However, yesterday news broke that he may have suffered a career threatening injury (there are conflicting reports) after he injured his hand while lighting/playing with fireworks. Given that he was designated a "franchise player" which required the Giants to either extend him for one year and then lose him to free agency OR offer him a long term deal for $$ it was not a wise choice to play with an inherently dangerous object like fireworks. As has been recently reported, after the team found out about the injury they pulled a contract offer which had been on the table. (For more on the story, click here).

The second story involves golfer Rory McIlroy. While driving down from Camp M this morning, I heard on the Mike & Mike program on ESPN that McIlroy had blown out a ligament in his ankle while playing soccer with his friends over the weekend. It seemed that based on the medical reports being produced that McIlroy's injury would force him to miss this week's Scottish Open and more importantly, he would lose the opportunity to defend his British Open title. What takes the story beyond a simple accident and into the realm of stupid athlete tricks is that Mike & Mike also reported that this was NOT the first time that McIlroy had injured himself playing soccer, although this was his most severe injury to date.

The third story (although the first in the actual chronological sequence) was that NY Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson would be suspended four games by the NFL for testing positive to a banned (but not performance enhancing substance). It was widely speculated that the substance was marijuana (for more on this story click here here). Much like the above stories, the Richardson suspension is another stupid athlete trick because the players are warned more than a month in advance that they will be testified and the warning is issued with enough time to get the substance out of their systems, provided they stop using it. Furthermore, a player does not get suspended for a first time violation as that is kept private. As such, if Richardson received a four game suspension he must have failed the test numerous times previously, but no one knew about it.

The issue of what goes on behind the scenes made me think of a vort that I heard from R' Mansour in a shiur that I downloaded from He noted that the Balak/Bilaam story differs from every other event in which an enemy of the Jews tried to destroy them. In every other story in Tanach there was a mesorah - a story or tradition handed down from the person who saw that Hashem saved the Jews. The person involved in the story would recount the events to his son and further down the chain. However, the Jews were blissfully unaware that Balak had sent Bilaam to curse the Jews. Indeed, if someone would have asked one of the people if anything happened that day, the person would have said no. It is only because Hashem told Moshe to write the story in the Torah that we even know that it occurred. 

R' Mansour concluded the vort by noting that these types of events happen every day, but we don't know that Hashem is actively involved because the stories don't make the papers. However, each of prayers is banked and Hashem does listen and answer them to save us from situations which we may never learn about.

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