Mendy Kaminker
Mendy Kaminker

Sport without fans? I’d be offended

If I was a Yankees fan, I would have been terribly offended right now.

You see, for years I am rooting for them, holding a season ticket, going to every game wrapped up with Yankees’ gear, buying all kind of memorabilia, and posting on Facebook “go Yankees!”. Basically, a fan all the way.

And now, just because of one little virus, they are planning to… play without fans?

So they are planning to have a game without their most loyal fans?

How can that even be? How can a game be played without fans? Aren’t the fans the ones who are winning or losing the games?

Now, because I am not a sport fan, I don’t take this to heart. But if I was, I am guessing at this point I would be pretty offended.

This entire debate about sport without fans is bringing to the forefront a sad reality: the players are the only ones who are deciding who is winning and who is losing.

Yes, the fans are important. Yes, they add so much to the atmosphere and the mood of the players. But they are just fans.

To win the game, you need the players.


Which reminds me of a story.

When a young Bar Mitzvah boy came to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he was surprised when the Rebbe started asking him about his sport preference. The Rebbe even asked him if he recently attended a game.

Here is how the conversation continued (from

“How was the game?”

It was disappointing, the 13-year-old confessed. By the sixth inning, the Dodgers were losing nine-to-two, so we decided to leave.

“Did the players also leave the game when you left?”

Rabbi, the players can’t leave in the middle of the game!

“Why not?” asked the Rebbe. “Explain to me how this works.”

There are players and fans, the baseball fan explained. The fans can leave when they like — they’re not part of the game and the game could, and does, continue after they leave. But the players need to stay and try to win until the game is over.

“That is the lesson I want to teach you in Judaism,” said the Rebbe with a smile. “You can be either a fan or a player. Be a player.”


So that’s it, my dear die-hard sport fans friends. You are very important, but to win the game, you really need to play.

Next week we will be celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, the day we received the gift of Judaism. We can root for it, we can post excited posts on Facebook, but most importantly we need to actually play –

To lead an active and proud Jewish life.

About the Author
Rabbi Mendy Kaminker is the Chabad Rabbi of Hackensack, and an editorial member of