The football season has come to an end but there are always more sports even though this year, games look a little different. As I continue to read the sports page, I think more and more about how we can teach our children important values that are in line with the competitive spirit. Here are a few of my favorite “Jewish sports values.” These can certainly open up great conversations with our children!
Jewish basketball values
Hachnasat orchim — welcoming guests
Teams travel throughout the country playing in different cities. Whether visiting or welcoming another team, let us remember this very important Jewish value of welcoming others. This can include welcoming new members of your team, showing hospitality to visitors in the stands, and most important, creating an atmosphere of kindness toward all who come to play, watch, coach and referee.
Kavod — respect
A most important Jewish value for us to remember is kavod — respect. Respect for our teammates, our coaches, our referees, our “fans” in the bleachers and for ourselves. Showing respect and honoring those we play with makes the game a positive, learning experience for all. “Who is honored and respected? One who honors and respects others.” (Pirke Avot)
Shmirat lashon — guarding your tongue
An important value in life and certainly in sports is the value of shmirat lashon — guarding your tongue. The rabbis teach us so many lessons on the importance of watching our words, both the ones we say and the ones we listen to. In the heat of a game (or in the heat of anger), we often say things that we wish we could take back, but once the words are out, the damage has been done. We all know this but it is so hard to control. In the recent past in professional sports, we have had athletes making inappropriate comments, sometimes on the field and sometimes even on camera (this would make a good discussion topic). Let us practice the skill of “guarding our tongue” as well as the skill of “guarding the ball.”
Sayver panim yafot — a pleasant demeanor
Another great sports value is sayver panim yafot — a pleasant demeanor. This is an important value in all areas of life, but how does it relate to basketball? Basically, this value can be translated to “put on a happy face.” When we show the world a smile, we usually get smiles in return. On the court, let us not show our “competitive” face looking angry. Competition is fun and our faces can show that — and when our faces show smiles, our spirit changes!