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 I have always felt that part of the attraction of sports, especially professional sports, leagues and teams, is that it somehow represents a metaphor for general life. One of the great ongoing mysteries of sports is the loyalty that losing teams continue to exercise over their fan base year after year and even decade after decade.

The Chicago Cubs have not won a championship in major league baseball for over a century. One would think that this would somehow discourage fan loyalty and essentially bring the club into financial bankruptcy. However, the opposite is true. Almost every game that they play is a complete sellout, the team is worth hundreds of millions of dollars and nothing seems to erode its popularity or following.
This is true for many other team franchises all over the sporting world. It is not only the lenders who are admired and rewarded but it is also the losers who are snuggled and loved. The concept of reward and punishment, success and failure, does not always apply in the sporting world.
The fan base of losing teams never completely disappears. The slogan is always, “Wait till next year”. But the obvious question is why should one feel that next year will be different than this year or the past number of years, the past number of decades or of the past century. But, this is human nature - to be eternally optimistic.
All sports leagues and teams are built on that premise of optimism, that somehow what has not worked in the past will somehow work in the future. And it is not only the winning teams that prosper financially but, in many cases, it is losing teams that produce greater profits for their owners and investors.
To a great extent, this sports oddity is reflected in political life as well. Old policies which have led to failure are constantly recycled and presented as somehow being the greatest of all options available. Discredited political leaders, some of whom have even been convicted of serious criminal offenses, are elected and command party loyalty. Charismatic leaders who promised great things and engendered great hopes are revealed to have clay feet but are still appreciated, if not even revered.
Ideologies that have failed are stubbornly maintained in the political, social and even religious world. It is as though everyone loves a loser no matter what the consequences. I think that it is pretty clear that the “two-state” solution to the Arab-Israeli struggle is not really a viable solution. Lip service to the contrary notwithstanding, it seems that both the Arabs and the Israelis instinctively realize that this is the case and neither side is really interested in pursuing its implementation.
Yet, the whole world loves a loser and is adamant that somehow this failed solution should be imposed upon the parties. The Chicago Cubs will continue to sell out all of their home games. The “peace process” and the “two-state” solution will continue to grind on to the ultimate detriment of all concerned. It has become an institutionalized industry in which many have now invested great interests and wealth and is unlikely to be shut down any time in the foreseeable future.
There are many examples of failed policies and counterproductive measures that abound in the Jewish world. The great tide of assimilation and intermarriage which is sweeping the Jewish world in the Diaspora and especially in North America is being attacked by policies, tactics and strategies, all of which failed to stem the secularization of the Jewish world in the nineteenth century in Eastern and Central Europe.
Yet, we persist in adopting those same tactics, which unfortunately failed us then, and apply them once again to our current situation. Not only that, but those who would advance a different outlook and different tactics to try and counter the current desperate situation are usually accused of being not true fans and of being disloyal to the home team.
Loyalty to the home team, no matter what, is a comfort zone that people readily adapt to and eventually come to treasure. If the object of the game is to win, at least some of the time, then true loyalty would dictate demanding changes that would possibly create a winning team. Strangely, I know many fine Jews who are complacent and even satisfied regarding the present state of Torah and tradition in Jewish society. They love rooting for a loser. Until that situation changes and rights itself it is unlikely that we will produce a winner.
Shabbat shalom
Berel Wein

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