As Jews, we aren’t exactly known for our superior sports skills. But, have there been at least 10 successful Jewish athletes throughout the history of humankind? Let’s find out!
1. Sandy Koufax
NJB alert! Koufax was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and one of the best arms in baseball. But he chose not to pitch in the opening game of the 1965 World Series because it was Yom Kippur! We stan this Semitic sensation.
Photo via Cliff, via Creative Commons
2. Mark Spitz
That’s right! 13 years before Michael Phelps was born, an actual Jewish swimmer held the record for the most Olympic gold medals won for 36 years (Chai times two, anybody?)! If Phelps is the greatest Olympic athlete of all time, that’s only because he had to first break the record that a Jewish swimmer held!
3. That kid Matt from camp
Oh, you don’t know Matt? Uh, yeah, he goes to camp with me. Matt is just, like, really good at… basketball, I think. Or maybe gaga? I heard he got a scholarship to a Division 3 school for… some sort of athletic activity.
4. Oh! Right! Omri Casspi!
How could I forget the real life Israeli Jew who was in the NBA for over 10 years? And he was okay, too! And tall! Tell me that’s not inspiring.
Image via Chamber of Fear, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
5. Aly Raisman
A powerful Jewish woman and a killer on the high beam. The second most decorated American gymnast in history, Raisman famously did her 2012 Olympics floor routine to the tune of Hava Nagila. Talk about a mensch!
Image via Agência Brasil Fotografias, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
6. Mark Cuban
Does he count? I’m gonna say he counts. Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank star Mark Cuban is just as rich as he is Jewish.
Image via Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
7. “Subway Sam” Nahem
A Syrian Jew from Brooklyn, Subway Sam pitched in the Major Leagues for 10 years starting in 1938. Two Jewish pitchers in one list? You got that right. Nahem is like Koufax, except worse and less successful. In fact, Nahem once said, “I’ve been mentioned in the same breath as Koufax. The breath usually is, ‘Sam Nahem is no Sandy Koufax.’”
Image via Wikimedia Commons
8. Sylvester from Space Jam, why not?
I don’t believe it’s been canonically confirmed that he’s Jewish, but I mean look at him. He loves to argue and he’s far from the team’s best player — sounds pretty Jewish to me!
Image via Christina Rutz via Creative Commons
9. Um, how about David Stern?
That’s right the late NBA commissioner was a New York-born Jew. While he wasn’t exactly a player, he did run the business side of one of the biggest sports leagues in the world.
Image via Brian Ellner, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
10. Okay… Brendan Frasier’s character in the 1992 sports drama School Ties
How about that? Brendan Frasier plays a Jewish quarterback who experiences anti-Semitism at his deeply Christian boarding school. Does that count as 10? Does that satisfy you, you gluttonous slob? Huh?
Image via David Shankbonederivative work: Teemeah, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
As it turns out, much like in other fields, Jews have weaseled their way into the world of sports, and found overrepresentation for such a tiny sliver of the global population.