A dark horse emerges in the great sports-as-life debate

By Rabbi Marc Gellman, Tribune Content Agency on

Many, many, readers weighed in on the metaphysical/theological/athletic question of the decade: "What sport is most like life?" Understanding our answers helps us understand life and why sports are such an important part of life for so many people. I always thought that life was obviously more important than sports because you could decide not to participate in sports but you cannot decide not to participate in life. Now I no longer think that is true. The epidemic of suicides in our country reveals the tragic sadness of so many people who have decided not to participate in life as well. I still wonder why Moses, Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammad combined said nothing about sports. When I was studying in a yeshiva, my rabbis simply told me that sports was a "bitul zman," a "waste of time." I sort of believe that and yet I remain open to the many moral lessons we can learn from participating and watching sports.

So in the face of my belief in the face of my friend Tom Friedman's belief that golf is most like life, I put forward the obviously true counter belief that baseball is most like life. Here are some of your other choices, dear readers ...


J, a loyal reader of the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., chose poker:

"I think poker would be the sport most like life. We all are dealt different hands. It is how we play our hands given. Some of us cash out early, some come away a little bit of a winner or loser, and some win big."

Dear J:


Good choice on the primacy of luck in poker and life, but I still remain convinced that luck is way more important in poker than life. Life rewards the prepared and poker only sometimes does -- but maybe it does. Perhaps I need to re-think the metaphysical importance of poker.


D from Islip, N.Y., chose surfing...

"My brother lives in Capistrano, Calif., and for many years, he has been an avid surfer. Each morning, at 5:30a.m., he heads to his favorite beach ... time of the year doesn't matter; he dons his wet suit and joins his fellow surfers waiting for the 'perfect wave.' This could take a while, sitting patiently on your board. Sometimes the waves are pretty flat -- you ride this wave but it's just another wave, no challenge. Other times, a wave could be 30-footer, and with your heart beating, scared and yet exhilarated, you go for the big one! Crazy, yes, but it was a great, safe ride. To me, isn't this a taste of life -- facing each day with a different challenge? Some days often require patience in problem solving. We are faced with a heavy burden, being anxious, scared, not knowing the outcome, while other days are peaceful, carefree and calm. Somehow, we get through it, feeling good about ourselves, and we accomplish our fears. The sun shines and it's been a great ride. God Bless!"


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