A Unique Way to “Dis” the Other Team

After a hard day’s work today I went to see my kids play basketball. They had a game in another yishuv very close to where I work, so I met them there. Westbankpapa also came after work to cheer on the team.

 They divide the kids into three groups – 1st and 2nd graders, 3rd and 4th, and 5th and 6th. My kids are in the older group so they go last, but I came early enough to see the others play. The 1st and 2nd graders lost to the other team, the 2nd and 3rd graders won by a landslide, and my kids team won by a comfortable margin. Which was exactly the reason why things got ugly at the end.

It turns out that in some games there is no independent referree. Each coach takes a turn at being the referree. The other teams coach started to favor his own team when he saw them losing, and stopped calling fouls on his kids. I am not good at seeing when there is a foul, but even I saw that something was wierd when the other team got so many chances at foul shots (which they mostly missed) and our team had very few.

So what happens in this situation? The kids start to get angry, and start to “dis” the other team. Here was where I was witness to a unique Israeli phenomenon. Our kids started to chant two different slogans – and I still can’t decide how I feel about them.

Our kids, all of them religious, started to chant “Elokim itanu, hashofet itchem” – loosely translated as “G-d is with us, the judge is with you” and “Bli kippa, ain mazal, cach amru chazal” – “Without a kippa (skullcap), you have no luck, so says our Sages”.

I have to say that I am both uncomfortable and highly amused, and secretly proud of these boys. They only started saying these slogans after they thought they were being cheated – it had nothing to do with who won or lost the game – as the two previous games showed. They had absolutely no notion of “keeping their heads down” and just taking it – which religious people would usually do in a similar situation elsewhere. They also showed pride (arrogance?) about their own religiosity, which I have to say I admire.

In any case, it certainly was an “only in Israel” moment for me – which just goes to show that even after living here for 16 years (next week!) new things still pop up.

I’d be interested in others opinions about this.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jerusalem joe
    May 24, 2007 @ 19:21:18

    Was the other team secular??
    If so these chants astonish me.It would certainly be a reversal from years past.

  2. tnspr569
    May 24, 2007 @ 22:59:59

    Wow. Even when kids start to “dis” their opponents, they do so on such a level. Wow. Really, I’m amazed.

    Not that “dissing” is a good thing, necessarily, but considering how it was done and what was said…


    The kids here sure get some education. Their values seem solid to me.

  3. Ezzie
    May 25, 2007 @ 03:38:08

    I’m not as enthusiastic. While obviously something needs to be done about a coach cheating for his team, it’s not the fault of the kids or their parents, who were likely offended by the chants.

    The first chant isn’t as bad, because the point is that the judge is cheating; that God is with them isn’t necessarily because they’re religious, just pointing out that “Hey, we’re winning, even though the ref is cheating.”

    The second has nothing to do with the game per se and is a bit more offensive.

  4. westbankmama
    May 25, 2007 @ 06:54:29

    jerusalem – the other team was mixed, as the yishuv itself is mixed, although a majority of the kids were not wearing kippot. What happened in years past?

    tnspr569 – yeah, I still remember the stuff said in my secular high school when the competition got intense – usually about people’s mothers (if you get my drift). So, even though I am uncomfortable about them putting down others for not wearing kippot, it is a far cry from what they could have said. (I have been at games with secular teams where they started to really curse, which our kids know they can’t do. They also know that they can’t take it out on the other team physically – no fights alowed.)

    Ezzie – I agree with you about the last point. The interesting thing is is that our coach is not religious and doesn’t wear a kippa either – but the kids are always joking with him that if they keep winning games he’ll have to put one on!

  5. jerusalem joe
    May 25, 2007 @ 08:56:28

    In past years religious kids, and grownups, would not feel comfortable touting their belief and religious identity. It’s like they still felt in the diaspora, and now they (you?) are feeling as if this is really THE land of Israel, and it is yours as well as the secular elites – no wonder they (the secular elites) are freaking out.
    Anyway, seems to me to be a good thing for almost everybody.

  6. balabusta in blue jeans
    May 26, 2007 @ 18:06:06

    Mixed feelings from this Conservative future soccer eema, but I mostly agree with Ezzie. Like him, I’m impresssed with the intellectual quality of the chanting, and don’t see harm in saying (and I think I’m interpreting right), “God sees us winning, even if your ref is a cheater-pants”. However, the second one does bug me, and I would be offended if I heard it aimed at my child’s team, even if their coach was behaving like an eejit.

    Did anyone talk to the ref, BTW? This kind of thing in kids’ sports is a real downer.

  7. Ben-Yehudah
    May 26, 2007 @ 23:43:51

    B”H Don’t forget: “Lech lihizda…rez lilmod Torah.”

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