Thursday, October 25, 2012

HOW ABOUT THIS LEAFLET?  Slate interviews Franklin Foer on his new anthology, Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame:
[T]he history of Jewish athletics is much richer than most folks realize. Basketball and boxing were both dominated by Jews during the interwar years. (Back then, a third of all boxing champions were Jews. You could find them in every weight class.) Football, not a very Jewish discipline on the surface, was practically invented by our people. Benny Friedman and Sid Luckman created the modern quarterback as we know him. Sid Gilman was the genius who conceived the basic structure of offense you see on your television sets each Sunday. Al Davis—yeah, we own him, too—reshaped the image of the game. That's to say nothing of the TV executives, the newspaper journalists, and marketing geniuses who left their sizable stamps on football.

Our thesis is that the Jewish contribution to sports is very much akin to the Jewish contribution to Hollywood. To paraphrase: We built that.... You can find Jewish champions in almost every sport, with one strange exception: golf. There are lots of Jewish country clubs and lots of Jewish doctors on the links, but there are stunningly few members of the tribe on the PGA tour. I have struggled to find a theory to explain this paucity.
Slate has some excerpts from the book, including Emily Bazelon on Renée Richards, and Jonathan Safran Foer on Bobby Fischer ("Not a jock, and not a Jew by any definition richer than heredity, Bobby Fischer was the quintessential Jewish Jock. He worked harder than any of his peers. He attempted to conceal his insecurity behind an ego built for 20, and his self-love behind self-hatred behind self-love. And perhaps more than any human who has ever lived, he kvetched.")

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