Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Where have you gone Sandy Koufax?

That's the headline on this article in today's Jerusalem Post and it refers to
Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. Koufax refused to pitch on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, even when that meant missing a World Series game.

Sunset this evening is the start of Rosh Hashanah. Yet three Israeli teams are playing in UEFA competitions tonight and tomorrow night. Only one of the three - Sakhnin - "made a legitimate attempt to have the date of his team's game switched". And Sakhnin is an Israeli-Arab team.

Obviously, this phenomenon of ignoring big religious occasions for sporting events is not restricted to Jews. I remember when some Christians tried to make an issue out of playing games on Good Friday. Their concerns were swept aside by the sports money behemoth.

Still, the fact that at the time this article was written "Tel Aviv had sold only 15,000 of the 42,000 tickets for the Munich match, while Haifa sold less than 2,000 for its game" gives me hope that Israel's Jews are aware that they stand to lose more by discarding these major dates in their religious calendar than they do by ignoring anything UEFA has to offer.

For more about this game and the controversey surrounding Bayern Munich's Iranian player who refused to make the trip because it is forbidden in Iranian law, see Jon.