What is wrong with someone who follows sports and what limits are required for someone who does?
We must understand that the ideal of following sports has been imported from the gentile world. Jews have no interest in sports. Jews have interest in maintaining their health, they have interests in maintaining their livelihood, and they have interest also in maintaining their happiness. Now, I added the last one because it could be that in order to make yourself more happy you might play ball – you might engage in some sport. But to be a follower of sports means that you are a follower of the gentile nations. There is no such ideal as sports among Jews. And there never was. Even the common people in the days of Rashi didn’t know of sports. Yes, children played. And I’m sure there were adults who wasted some time too, but the idea of sports as it was practiced among the gentiles was entirely alien to Jews. Whether the sport consists of watching two people punch each other in a ring, or seeing horses in a race, or people trying to hit a little ball with a club, whatever it is, all these ideals are imported from the gentile world.
Football and basketball, if you play it yourself it’s good exercise. But if you go someplace and you pay admission – or even if you go in for free – to watch these things, then it’s a sign that you identify with the outside world. Which world? The world that used to have gladiators and arenas, where men fought each other to the death. The world that used to watch men being cast to the lions in the Roman arenas. Chariot races, hippodromes, theatres, military contests – all these are the inheritance of the nations of the world.
Now, the Jews have plenty of good times – there’s a lot of fun you can have . And children can play, and adults if they wish can also play; but not as an ideal. אל תשמח ישראל אל גיל כעמים – Yisroel, do not rejoice in the fun of the nations (Hoshea 9:1). Rejoice, yes! But not the way the nations rejoice. We are a separate nation and we shouldn’t emulate them. And therefore, when Jews identify with gentiles in anything, they have cut off their identity with the Holy Nation, the Am Yisroel.
TAPE # 701 (August 1988)