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Dec 27, 2012

Religion Trumps Basketball as shomer negiah boys don't play ball

In the school basketball league, religion trumped basketball yesterday.

In a match between Elitzur Ranaana's team, and Alfei Menashe's team, the Ranaana team protested that a girl was on the Alfei menashe team. As soon as the cosh saw that a girl was on the team, he went over to the referees and told them his team cannot play, because there are some religious boys on the team and they are not allowed to touch the girl - they are shomer negiah.

After some discussion and debate, the game was canceled, with Ranaana's team being declared the technical winner of the game, after Alfei Menashe refused to play under proposed conditions.
(source: Nana News)

I don't know if the demand was right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate, considering the circumstances (i.e. these religious boys are participating in a league that allows girls to be on the teams - if they have a problem, they shouldn't play in this league, or make demands of others, perhaps something like this should be taken care of in advance and not on the court at gametime, consider the age of the kids, etc.). I don't know. I can't fault these kids for wanting to keep halacha, but if playing in this league doesn't allow them to, and they know this in advance, maybe they should not play in this league but find a different one - but I am not sure hurting the feelings of other people, or preventing other people from enjoying their same right to play, is the correct way to go..

Either way, I do not understand why Ranaana was declared the winner of the game with Alfei Menashe being the forfeiting team. Alfei came to play, under the terms and conditions set by the league. Even though they did not accept Ranaana's conditions, it was really Ranaana forfeiting the game, as they were not willing to play with Alfei Menashe sporting a female player. It is all nice and wonderful to have ideals and to stand up for them, but part of that is also respectably paying the price for such ideals.

Many athletes throughout history could not play baseball or other sports professionally, due to the issue of Shabbos observance. Those who were concerned about the issue, those who stood strong on their ideals of Shabbos observance, were also willing to pay the price - they did not play professional ball. These kids are wonderful, but other people should not have to pay the price for these kids standing up for their ideals. They should find, or create, an all-male league to play in, and in the meantime, they should be taking the losses in such games..

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  1. yes, I agree
    It wasn't fair. If it's a mixed league then that is a condition that all players have accepted.

  2. I coulda sworn Basketball was a non-contact sport.

  3. "there are some religious boys on the team and they are not allowed to touch the girl"

    then those boys should have stayed on the bench (sounds like it wasn't the entire team?)

    "Many athletes throughout history could not play baseball or other sports professionally, due to the issue of Shabbos observance."

    who are these "many"?

  4. they are mostly unknown becayuse they never became famous, because they didnt play... I have met a number of people, or read their stories in newspapers, local jewish media, etc where such stories were told. The most famous example I can think of is recently Tamir Goodman who couldnt play for a serious college team because of Shabbos observance, and ended up having a very short basketball career in Israel.
    Keep an eye on the religious kid playing for Northwestern. See how long he lasts.
    Dov Shurin claims to have been scouted as a pitcher for the Mets and he decided not to play because of Shabbos observance.
    If I know of a few off the top of my head I am sure there are plenty more.

  5. but I am not sure hurting the feelings of other people

    I dont see how 'not shaking a woman/man's hand" or "not wanting to touch a woman/man" is hurting their feelings!!!!!!!

  6. refusing to play basketball due to the participation of a girl hurts her feelings. if you clicked on the link to the news report and watched the video of the news report where she spoke, you'd see she was hurt and insulted.

    who said anything about shaking hands?

  7. Kol Hahavod to the team that holds has their religious ideals above their hobby-interests.
    And I was a physical education teacher for more than 20 years.


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