Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer
Rabbi Prof. Dov FischerCourtesy

New York City Mayor Eric Adams now has special rules for athletes and entertainers. They don’t have to wear masks or play by any of the rules that condemn others to being fired and facing financial ruin. New York even fires its First Responders: Police, Fire Fighters, Nurses and Doctors who stand up to mask mandates and vaccine threats. Indeed, athletes are the last redoubt of the America so many love and grew up in. From detestable pro-China quasi-traitors like LeBron James to everyday Broadway actors and athletes, these are the people we used to call “Privileged Characters.”

Can you imagine if the Super Bowl — which I did not watch and do not care about — had been played by two teams crafted along the principles of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity (D.I.E.)? Better yet: if the whole NFL — the entire football season — and all of the NBA, the major basketball league season were that way? Imagine:

Jews comprise approximately 13 percent of New York State’s population, closer to 20 percent of New York City. Therefore, the New York Giants and Jets football teams would need to be 13-20 percent Jewish, reflecting the local population. (Upstate New York’s Buffalo Bills could be fewer.) NFL teams have 53 players on roster, of whom 47 may play at game time. Consequently, the Giants and Jets each would be required to conduct outreach to recruit between seven and eleven Jews.

Where is the diversity and inclusion on the field — as running backs, defensive ends, wide receivers, safeties? The principle of equity is not about equality of opportunity but about equal results — just as when Harvard and Yale devise tactics to reduce Asian admissions. What about equity for Jews — and Asians and Indo-Asians — in the NFL and NBA?

The Jets have been so bad for so long that no one would notice if the “T” in the team name were changed to a “W.” This year the Jets had one of their better seasons, winning four and losing thirteen. The year before they won two and lost fourteen. Fortunately for their fans, that season ran only sixteen games. They won four and lost twelve two years earlier as well. In 2019 they did fabulously, winning almost half their games. In distinguishing optimists from pessimists, Jets are not about whether their season ended with half their games won or half lost. Rather, it’s more an AOC definition: given that the earth will end in only nine more years, the Jets won’t lose more than another 153 games.

Thus the paradox of major league sports. Jam-packed with the most America-hating, Communist China-loving, merit-bashing ingrates in all America, the NBA and NFL will not let any of their own “progressive” woke rules impinge on their own turfs. That’s for other people — society’s suckers. By contrast, those leagues are committed to excellence on the playing field, even if games must begin with their overpaid ingrates kneeling during the national anthem.

More and more, I prefer interpreting that kneeling differently: As these narcissistic ingrates and social misfits whose college GPAs and English articulation during televised interviews demonstrate they could not have achieved much else if Americans did not pay millions to people built like refrigerators or capable of dribbling, I like to think these millionaire ingrates are kneeling in obeisance and deference to the tens of thousands assembled who have bestowed on them undeserved opportunities of a lifetime. They are not kneeling, I would like to think, but bowing to their masters and softly singing:

Amazing grace, thank G-d for chumps,

Fans who’ve saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, running “D” in college,

But now I’ve found the key.

The NBA and NFL will not tolerate woke equity — equal outcomes divorced from merit. If a quarterback cannot excel, let him work elsewhere. If a runner cannot hold the ball without fumbling, even as opposing front lines regularly try stripping it from his arms, let him find other employment. The NFL has no room for mere adequacy. No positions set aside for the handicapped, women, those over 40, transgendered handicapped. One moment’s wisp of fame ends rapidly, mercilessly, brutally. Merit has no room for mediocrities.

Color matters not. No groups are favored. Elsewhere in America, for insignificant jobs, places may be reserved for “Women of Color.” Where the best qualified need not apply, like for Vice President of the United States or U.S. Supreme Court justice, we can set aside a spot for a Black woman. But not in the NFL or NBA.

A fellow named Mark Sanchez came to the Jets, highly touted from the University of Southern California. A real Trojan he. Initially, he led the Jets into the playoffs. Then he faltered. His lowest ignominy came before a national television audience watching the “Game of the Week” against the mighty New England Patriots. On that auspicious night, poor Sanchez perpetrated something that never quite happened before, and it never quite has happened since — the Butt Fumble. As my deeply religious Mother of blessed memory would have said, “No one should know from such things.” In its pathos, it yet was a thing of beauty. It cannot be described, only clicked and savored as 2½ million others have done here.

But[t] here’s the thing: Sanchez is Mexican-American. Under the Woke rules of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, he should have been given a “do-over.” As with professors who are ordered to grade certain students a “pass,” similarly the world of D.I.E. would have seen the referees reverse the play. The Patriots should have been penalized for starting Tom Brady, oozing with White Privilege — also for that team name: Patriots?

But the NFL will have nothing of Diversity, Inclusion, or Equity on its playing fields. Rather, if the Mexican-born player cannot beat the White guy under the accepted color-blind rules governing the sport, too bad. No crying in baseball and no guarantees of equal outcomes in football or basketball. If the same team keeps winning annually, once led by White guys like Brady and some Polish guy named Gronkowski, coached by a Croatian named Belichick, then so be it.

One watches a LeBron James social misfit demanding reparations from me, squashing the hopes and air out of China’s persecuted Uighurs or the people of Tibet, and one sees a despicable hypocrite who yet has cultivated a skill in bouncing a ball nimbly and hurling it in an arch that sinks perfectly into a hoop from afar. These skills entail discipline, training, intense practice. LeBron is there for one reason: merit. He trades on it with no loyalties to the Cleveland that launched him, the Miami that offered him more, the Cleveland that bought him back, and the Los Angeles that purchased him next.

The government does not coerce the NBA to grant entitlements nor to impose affirmative action. Thus: few Jews, Indo-Asians, Asians. If the Knicks were required to have D.I.E. among their fifteen rostered players, that would compel hiring two or three Jews. Instead, the circumcised just can’t make the cut — refuse-Knicks they. With Jews comprising approximately 22 percent of Brooklyn’s population, that would require three Jews on the Nets. We call that a “M’zuman.” The Nets would (correctly) call it a catastrophe.

Let’s not forget Asians — 8.5 percent of New York City. The Knicks once sported one — Jeremy Lin — eventually traded away like chattel. It would mean four or five Asian Jets, likewise Giants. Brutal.

The contra-argument is that many of these cultural groups like Jews, Asians, and Indo-Asians tend to produce more Nobel Prize winners than they do guards or centers. The kids from India dominate spelling bees and Silicon Valley CEO spots. But in the world of Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity — so what? What counts is equal outcomes. Asians, Indians, and Jews harbor dreams of major-league stardom, yet are denied because disadvantaged by misguided parental upbringings that focused more on playing piano and violin, doing homework and excelling at academics. That is unfair to the kid deprived because his academic counselor socialized him cruelly, encouraging him to aspire for professional achievement, discouraging him from skipping school to play pick-up ball in the park.

Of longer-lasting concern, until the NBA and NFL renounce their racist policies favoring the Privileged of Color, there never will be large numbers of great Jewish, Asian, and Indo-Asian sports heroes because kids never will have the role models they need to emulate — true Greats comparable to established NFL stars who miss curfew, miss practice, get arrested at bars on gun charges nights before big games.

One Hank Greenberg in the 1940s, a Dolph Schayes in the 1950s, Sandy Koufax in the Sixties, Ken Holtzman in the Seventies — that suffices to inspire a people to stop wasting their time on curing cholera and tuberculosis and polio, developing the field of organic chemistry, discovering the relationship between the consumption of oxygen and the metabolism of lactic acid in the muscle, discovering penicillin’s curative effects, discovering the Hepatitis C virus, RNA, chemical structures of antibodies,quantum mechanics, lasers, semiconductor heterostructures, and other Nobel Prize stuff in order to gain dexterity in slanting-left, making three-point shots, and screen plays? No wonder Jews end up grasping at even an Art Shamsky or a Shawn Green as the greatest thing since sliced bagels.

It remains a paradox that, for all their institutional moaning about White Privilege and all their players’ kneeling at the national anthem, the NBA and NFL remain among America’s final redoubts of a devalued precious core trait on which America was built: merit. No mask mandates for them. No special “Black Lives Matter” privileges. No “Affirmative Action.” Just what once proudly was called “the American Way.”

Adapted by the writer for Arutz Sheva from a version of this article that first appeared here in The American Spectator.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is Senior Contributing Editor at The American Spectator, adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, Rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations including Zionist Organization of America and regional boards of the American Jewish Committee and B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and served six years on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. Writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com.

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