I’m tired of Israeli sports. So tired, that not only do I never expect any Israeli athlete to ever win anything, I’m simply tired of being disappointed by how badly we lose. That’s how frustrated I am. I watch tennis, soccer and basketball games, and keep my fingers crossed until the clock runs down that it won’t be a total embarrasment. Please G-d, don’t let the insult sting too much. I’m not asking for much…
Last week Israel lost to Greece, 1-2 in Crete. The first match was a boring 1-1 tie. I was sitting with my buddy Shai during the 2nd game, and we both wished it would just end already. We were so tired. Tired of the hype, caused by both the media and the coach and players, that made us think we had a chance to beat a mediocre team like Greece. That makes us think like that every game, as if we always have a chance to win and reach the World Cup, this time! As if each game is the most important game of all. And we fall for it every time. Well, no more! Israeli soccer (and other sports venues) suck big time! We’ll never make it! We’re just not good enough! So let’s just sit back, and when the game comes on, switch the channel! I’ll bet you every time we’ll lose. And I’ll make good money on those bets, trust me.
For years I always used to hear that we suck because of the wars. We suck because all the budget goes to tanks, not to stadiums. That’s partly true. Athletes in Israel have it tough. And it’s going to get worse, most probably, now that Limor Livnat is once again Bibi’s Sports Minister. The only memorable thing she did last time was jump on the podium with Gal Friedman in Athens when he won the gold. As if she fought the waves herself.
But it’s so obvious it goes much deeper than that. It’s all about mentality. Israeli ahtletes aren’t winners. They’re not fighters. They don’t have that fire in their eyes that you see in athletes from different countries.
What’s funny is, that our national coach actually recognized that problem. But instead of trying to fix it himself (get this… are you sitting down?) he asked Colonel Ilan Malka of the Givati brigade, who helped “win” the last war in Gaza, to give his “soldiers” a pep talk and show them “how it’s done”.
So, I guess coach Kashtan thought, hey, we’re good at dying for our country, we’re willing to sacrifice our own life and take the lives of others for a peace of grass in Samaria – why not convince our guys to go kamikaze on the grass in Ramat Gan? Holy crap! Have we gone nuts? And how sad is it that a national coach doesn’t think he can fire up his players by himself, so he turns to an IDF colonel to do it for him?
And then, when I was watching the first game in Ramat Gan, I started to understand, that this is the only thing we know. I heard the Greek fans singing some songs – but noticed that Israel never sang one song at all. The whole match, our fans had only one chant: “Israel War! Israel War”! You would think that a people who turned out the likes of Leonard Bernstein and the Gershwin brothers could come up with a tune for their team. But no. Just one, monotonous chant, of two words. 40 thousand Israelis crammed in a stadium yelling for war, after their team gets a pep talk from a Colonel whose army killed over a thousand Palestinans in a few weeks. Freud would have a field day.