Rav Avigdor Miller on Our View of Sports
May a yeshiva bochur listen to sports on the radio?
I’ll ask you a different question: May a yeshiva bochur stand on his head? Yes, if he wants to. But he’s a meshugenah if he does it.
What is sports? It’s so silly! The Yanks and the Mets hitting the baseball. It’s so meshugah. It’s an American goyishe meshugenah velt. It’s the headlines – Yanks, Mets. It’s so silly.
What sports does is the following. The headlines show us how empty the gentile world is. And therefore, we take a lesson from that. These foolish people who can make headlines from the most silly things – we have to say, “Can they be an example for us at all?! In anything?!”
ברוך אלוקינו שהבדילנו מן התועים. Boruch Hashem that He has separated us from these lost neshamos.
A lot of Jewish youth – and even adults sometimes – have an interest in playing sports and watching sports. What do you say about this phenomenon?
It depends what you mean. If sports are played for the prestige of the uniform, for the prestige of being a sports player, then it’s as silly as could be. It’s a silly gentile thing. Here’s a boy, strutting down the street, in a lacrosse uniform. Did you ever see a lacrosse uniform? You don’t what it is? It’s a game that high schools and colleges play. So he’s strutting down the street in his uniform, all covered with helmets and padded things all over him, and he walks down the street like a hero. He has a halo of sanctity around him. That’s what they think. They think that sports is something noble. So this garbage we have to get out of our heads. There is nothing noble about holding a stick and smacking a baseball. There’s nothing noble about that; nothing heroic about it.
However, if it’s something done for exercise, then there’s no question – you don’t need me to tell you that exercise is important. If it’s not too strenuous, then exercise is very good.
But it would be even better if you would take a brisk walk for forty-five minutes. Not in the night time. And not on lonely streets. But a brisk walk in the fresh air is the best sport and the best exercise. And while you’re doing that, you can be thinking over all of the important ideas that a Jew should be filling his mind with. There’s no end to the thoughts that you must be filling your mind with that will prepare you for the World to Come. Whereas, if you’re banging around a ball or some other thing like that, that keeps your mind busy on small unimportant things, and the precious time is entirely wasted.
But watching sports?! That’s a one hundred percent waste of time! You should forget about all the ideals of sport and the glamour about sports. Because actually, it’s nothing at all.