The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

J Scholastic Sports VI - Runaway Train

I received the following rant/comment to my recent post on our younger son's victory in his JV floor hockey championship game from "Simply Mo", someone who grew up out of town. The gist of my post was that (a) OYS's school appreciated the importance of scholastic sports, (b) OYS has a great coach from whom he has learned many wonderful things, and (c) OYS himself has not let his athletic ability and success get to his head.

The comment is so off the wall and wrongheaded that I thought it justified a separate responsive post.

First, the comment:

OK. Being an out of towner, I was always mystefied with the in-towners obsesion with this c**p: Let me get it straight, you make up some sport and play only against other religious kids, chas vashalom play solomon shechter, success is the measure of coolness, and some Neturei Karta guy coaches you? My problem with this stems from its clanishness. People in NY so take for granted the strength of the Jewish enviornment (sic) in which they raise their kids that they've constructed this fake league playing a fake sport in a completely insulated manufactured reality. Where I grew up, we played in a Catholic league- to my knowledge no one from Maimonides ever turned catholic or even scored with any catholic cheerleaders. A big part of my Jewish Consciousness stems from having pennies thrown at me at a game in Cape Cod and wearing a yamulke to play even before I was particularly religiously inclined, as I am now. There is much more value in my experience than that of my peers in yehsiva from both a social and athletic perpective. I'm amazed that there is little support for larger yehsivot to enter the state league, as my high school team did and play comprably SIZED schools rather than schools with identical ideology. To my knowledge, the Yeshiva league contributes to more delinquency than any exposure to catholics. I've been regaled many times with stories of drug use and sexual behavior (short of sex) surounding the "scene" created at these overhyped events in the five towns and jersey. Such a scene was completely absent at my games. You couldnt get a big crowd of Central girls to come out to Trinity Catholic that's for sure. My experience was about athletics, not faux heroics and inflated egos. I realize your son is a mensch and the games are conducted with greater midos than could be expected in any secular league, but that doesnt make the experience worth while. The league insulates youth in a way that fails to prepare them for the real world- that is unless you support you children learning in kollel mooching off the schver- in which case they have no need for real life skills and should go on playing floor hockey. Why do you think the first response in the five towns to my city of origin: "oh, out of towners are so nice." In truth, I may not be- but there is something to it. We lack the clanish tribal insulated obnoxious five towns and jersey jewish attitude which is reviled by out of towners, non-obervant jews and goyim alike. You should be ashamed for partaking.
My first response? Huh?

Now let me address some of the points:

1. I suspect that when SM played ball (presumably in the Boston area) the only option for the Maimonides school was to play in a Catholic league. When there are only a couple of other yeshiva high schools in the entire metropolitan area you can't form a yeshiva league. Is there any doubt that they would have prefered a yeshiva league had it been viable?

2. I fail to see the benefits of playing against Catholic high schools whose fans are throwing pennies at you. What exactly is the benefit? Is that really the way to develop a "Jewish Consciousness'? How about developing a Jewish consciousness by playing for a coach who is an erliche Yid? (I will not dignify the comment SO made about the coach being Neturai Karta with a response).

3. After the game, the same kids that were going after each other ferociously lined up and shook hands, and in some cases hugged one another. The kid from the other team who crunched OYS twice during the game is his very good friend from camp. Although this kid wanted to win in the worst way, he and OYS exchanged hugs and nice words right after the game. They will be at each other's homes for Shabbos in the near future. Are you going to do that with Catholic kids?

4. I don't know the evolution of what SM describes as the 'fake sport' of floor hockey. It came after my own time and I have always been curious how it became so popular. I suspect it became popular because it is a game that is relatively inexpensive for the schools and the summer camps to play. It became more popular than basketball in many schools because it is much more exciting than basketball, especially basketball the way it is now played.

5. SM fails to explain why playing sports against non-Jews has all the virtues and life's lessons that playing against fellow Jews does not. He is, simply, totally wrong.

6. While there is no denying that there is an element in the hockey world that indulges in the drug and drinking scene, guess what? There is an element in the yeshiva high school population at large that indulges in the drug and drinking scene. I would suggest that way more kids are 'saved' by their exposure to hockey than are lost because of hockey.

SM's comments about the insular-clannish-Five-Towns-and-New-Jersey-behavior-that-will-lead=to=kollels-and-shvers-of-which-I-should-be-ashamed-of-partaking are incoherent so I won't respond.