Menu JTA Search

Slants on Sports

On the sun-baked stadium at Tel Aviv, Palestine, during the first Maccabiad two years ago, Dave White, executive director of the United States Maccabi Association, made his last appearance as an athlete in active competition. It was a fitting swan song to a brilliant athletic career of more than fifteen years which netted him fame and recognition in America, Europe and Asia.

In April, 1922, the Boston sporting pages headlined the fact that "A Schoolboy Jumper Startles Harvard," with the following story appended:

"Harvard’s varsity track athletes stopped work yesterday afternoon at Soldier’s Field to watch the broad jumping of a youth from the High School of Commerce, Dave White by name, who certainly established himself as a ‘schoolboy Ned Gourdin.’

"For the high school youth went out and broad jumped twenty-three feet, more than a foot and a half further than any man on the Harvard squad can leap."

Exactly ten years after this story appeared, in April, 1932, an older and more experienced athlete jumped to a first place in the international Maccabiad at Tel Aviv. It would be thrilling to relate that it was White’s magnificent leap that won for the Jewish-American athletes in Palestine but such was not the case. The points that the track and field team amassed as a result of White’s running broad jump helped roll up the tremendous score which the Jewish boys from the States garnered in international competition. However, it was fitting that this young man, as captain and manager of the entire American contingent, should take a first place in his last active competitive event. It was a glowing tribute to his personality, leadership and athletic ability that the American team took a first place in the track and field events and a second in the final scoring among the nations of the World Maccabiad.

ENJOYED BRILLIANT ATHLETIC CAREER

We have written much on the Maccabi movement in America but little on the hardest worker in the movement. We really didn’t know very much about the athletic career of Dave White because he has been out of school for some time. Then again, White isn’t the sort of chap to talk about his athletic achievements. While we were waiting for a meeting of the executive council of the Maccabi to begin, we rummaged through the desk in his office. In a bottom drawer we found his scrapbook, the sort of thing that every athlete keeps. However, this ran true to form, merely hinting at the athletic achievements of White from 1917 to 1930. Notwithstanding, we managed to glean some of the more important facts about the "man behind the Maccabi."

White earned recognition as a schoolboy jumper in the High School of Commerce but it wasn’t until he entered Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania that he revealed his best form. In the two years that he prepped at the academy, prior to entering Harvard University, he scored victory after victory and earned an enviable reputation as an athlete in the historic Quaker institution.

Mercersburg won the national scholastic track and field championships in 1924 and White helped the school win with his first place in the broad jump.

Upon his graduation from this school he was bewildered by the many offers that were made to him by several of the leading colleges in the East. He accepted the bid of Harvard in 1925 for a number of reasons, among which was the fact that he wanted to be under the track tutelage of Farrell, the Harvard athletic mentor. It wasn’t long before he was known as top-notcher in intercollegiate circles.

GREATEST ATHLETIC SUCCESS IN PALESTINE

Realizing that we could not learn very much from White’s scrapbook, we cornered the busy young man and finally got him talking on the first Maccabiad This is one subject he’ll enlarge upon.

"Nothing ever gave me a greater thrill," he said, "than to watch the thousands upon thousands of Jewish youngsters from all over the world marching in the grand parade in their white uniforms through the streets of Tel Aviv before the international games. It was an awe-inspiring spectacle and made me proud of the fact that I am a Jew and a Maccabi member

"When the American team, in its special uniforms, paraded in the stadium with the teams from thirty-three other countries I felt a spirit of kinship surge through me that left me breathless. Then again, the fact that I was able to win my event in the broad jump against the best Jewish athletes of the world made the trip a success for me.

"The entire team had a grand time in Palestine. We toured Europe and took in the Bar Kochba in Berlin and the famous Hakoab unit in Vienna. Yet if I can convey partially the feelings that possessed me in Palestine two years ago, the Jewish youth of the United States would rally ’round the Maccabi banner."

When asked what he considered the greatest athletic success in his career, he immediately replied, "The fact that I was able to participate with the American Maccabi team at Tel Aviv to me is and will be my greatest athletic enterprise and victory."

A HARD WORKER

When the United States team returned to America in the summer of 1932 with such a splendid record behind it, the administrative board of the Maccabi determined that the time was ripe for a concerted drive for membership. However, due to one thing or another, nothing was done until the beginning of this year. It was then that Dave White was appointed executive director of the American association. Not long after he had taken this post the organization received its official charter. Since then the record of the Maccabis has been a splendid one and the credit is due to the personality, the energy and the executive ability of the man at the helm.

Plans for the second Maccabiad in 1935 at Tel Aviv have been under way for some time. On this trip the American group will be composed of a team of twenty-five men and women representing track and field, swimming, boxing, tennis and wrestling. The trip will be open only to Maccabi members.

Already there are Maccabi groups in many of the principal cities of the country, with requests for chapter memberships pouring in from various sectors of the country.

If you are a reader of The Jewish Daily Bulletin you belong in the Maccabi movement. Eventually—why not now? Join the Maccabis.

NEXT STORY