This Jew Won't Bunt

Why I pulled the U.S. fastpitch softball team from this year's Jewish Olympics

Maccabiah swimming coach Seth Baron, who serves in the same role at Georgia Tech University, came to a different conclusion in a June 18 e-mail.

"Ladies and Gentlemen -- I AM GOING TO ISRAEL -- and I want everyone to join me and the rest of your fellow Maccabiah Athletes! We are going to have a blast."

Certainly, the biggest break for the beleaguered U.S. committee in the aftermath of its flip-flop came June 18. That morning, the committee issued an e-mail on behalf of Lenny Krayzelburg, the Russian-born swimmer who won three gold medals at last summer's Olympic Games for the U.S., his adopted country.

Staff writer Paul Rubin collects a gold medal at the 1985 Maccabiah Games.
Staff writer Paul Rubin collects a gold medal at the 1985 Maccabiah Games.
A sadly typical scene in Israel in recent months, this one after the Tel Aviv bombing.
courtesy of the Associated Press
A sadly typical scene in Israel in recent months, this one after the Tel Aviv bombing.

"I am very excited about representing the U.S.A. at the Maccabiah Games next month," Krayzelburg wrote in his e-mail. "I urge all of you to join me as we march in to the Opening Ceremonies of the Maccabiah."

So much for Jordan Weinstein's plea to me to let everyone make up his or her own mind. By the way, the committee claimed last week that two-thirds of the original contingency, or about 400 athletes and support personnel, may be attending the Games next month.

Could I have made my own fervent plea to my players to follow the party line and traipse to Israel in a show of "solidarity" with our Jewish brethren?

Sure.

But I didn't want to. If truth be told, I couldn't have "won over" nine of my players -- you can't play with fewer than that -- if I'd wanted to.

Under the present circumstances, I didn't.

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