Milken Community High School Gets A Tackle Football Program

It is slated to begin next fall. The school is trying to come up with a Jewish approach to tackle football, which, if implemented, will likely kill all enthusiasm for the program.

I don’t know of any Jewish school that has a tackle football program.

I read one statistic that every year of playing tackle football takes six months off your life on average.

Judaism frowns upon participation in violent sports:

Judaism is not a pacifist religion and Jews are permitted to carry arms for self defense as needed, but it is not considered a symbol but merely a utensil.

Violent sports would certainly include any sports where the object is to cause harm to the opponent; bullfighting would be an extreme example and one which is certainly forbidden in Jewish law. But there are sports which are not inherently very violent which have come to be surrounded by an aggressive and violent atmosphere. For example, ice hockey is not a particularly violent sport but in some places brawls on the ice have become a draw rather than a distraction – a clear sign that things have gone too far. Fencing by contrast is a “martial art” but the atmosphere surrounding competitions is hardly bloodthirsty.

Aggression is one of the few tendencies that Judaism does not strive to legitimize and elevate on an ongoing basis. It may be an occasionally unfortunate necessity for individual or national defense, but not a personal or national quality to cultivate or take pride in. Sporting events that emphasize or cultivate aggression are not the right choice for someone motivated by Jewish ethics.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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