Football and Faith

Periodically, I will post some personal observations on YallaGuy and I’m sure many of them will contain discussions about sports.

An old college friend, Marnie Berk,  who is trying to persuade me to check out her new synagouge Tribeca Hebrew (sounds almost like a clothing label), told me that she was spinning her wheels, “I don’t know why I bother,” she said. Your religion is sports.”

Wiser words have not been spoken to me in 2008.  Actually, I’m Jewish and to further cement my interest in New York’s hipster jewish scene, I lost a weight bet to my father and, as a result, I need to  join a synagogue.

But Marnie deserves credit for her perceptive, cogent analysis, I do feel a deep, spiritual connection with sports and have come to realize that watching, listening, talking about, and playing sports is an exceptional use of my time.  It’s a matter of faith.

This fall I was very disappointed when Ry announced he was quitting soccer because he did not feel good enough about his skills to play for the elite Manhattan Kickers.  I understood it, but was sad that he felt he had to be among the best to play.  Then he told me he wanted to play football.

Shame on me I thought.  I have glorified this great game, but I never intended for my son to play it.  I never played, because, well you know, Jews don’t really play a lot of football.  Quick! Name that tight end  who played for the Steelers in the 70’s.   When Ry quickly ascended to first team offense I had to get used to watching him get crushed as the Downtown Giants failed to get a first down for two games and Ry was lucky to escape with no injuries and no fumbles.

But then things started to come together a bit and while at 2-4, the Downtown Giants won’t be vying for the City championship for a while, they are having a really good time. And Ry is learning those greatest of sports values (team, honor, sportsmanship, hard work) in ways that are so unique to football.  Football is pomp and circumstance.  And I love every cliche because there is a great romance in these traditions.

It was a beautiful fall day and parents from diverse social, racial, and religious backgrounds watched two well-matched teams battle it out for a game that had no particular meaning whatsoever.  No talk of  recession,  terrorism, energy/healthcare/education crisis, or political drama.   There was football — hits, tackles, fumbles, rushes, passes, touchdowns– and there was community.

Now, I have more faith.

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