Old H. W. went to a football game the other day. It was raining â€” pitchforks, you might say, with a couple of cats and dogs tossed in for good measure. But your Day Booker wasn’t the only lunatic in the stadium watching the footballers frolic in the mud. There were some 30,000 other weak-minded mortals absorbing the worst punishment that Jupe Pluvius could hand out. And most of them had paid for the privilege of sitting out in the rain to watch twenty-two brawny young brutes juggle a pigskin.
Lest the reader imagine that this is the beginning of a sports column and that he has by some deplorable accident found himself mired in Morris Weiner’s bailiwick over on page seven, I hasten to set his fears at rest. The football game at which I courted pneumonia was something more than just a football game.
This football game was the be###### of a stupendous idea that involves the welfare of nothing less than world Jewry.
Recently, Bill Ziff loaded his machine gun, trained its sights on the pages of the Jewish Daily Bulletin and peppered the columns with a stinging barrage of words. The design those words traced across our pages read like a call to arms. About face! Jewry, those word-bullets spelled out. Stop bellyaching, stop squawking, stop breast-beating. Stop wailing and start fighting. Aux armes, citoyens!
Ziff’s call was for action. But the call was unaccompanied by a specific plan. Watching that football game in the rain in the company of thousands of other psychopathic ward graduates, suggested a plan of action that should rouse Jewry to a fighting pitch and, incidentally, swell its charity and relief coffers.
As Columbia’s star footballer, Al Barabas, legs driving like pistons and hips twisting like a hula dancer’s, traveled seventy-six yards down a cleat-torn field of grass and mud, I said to myself:
Wouldn’t it be marvelous to see Stevey Wise dash off tackle some day and streak the length of the gridiron for a touchdown for dear old alma mater, American Jewish Congress? Wouldn’t it be a thrilling sight to see Stevey on this epic flight down the field straight-arm one would-be American Jewish Committee tackler after another? And just think what a gorgeous spectacle it would be for the huge crowd that had paid anywhere from $1.10 to $4.40 (including tax) to see the game, if they could see old number 77 (Stevey’s number) having such sterling interference on the touchdown run as quarterback Barney Deutsch, half-back Morris Rothenberg and half-back Morris Margulies could provide.
The question I asked myself was merely rhetorical. It needed no response. The answer was obvious. The thing would be a sensation.
There are many Jewish organizations. Many commentators on Jewish affairs, probably including Bill Ziff think there are too many. There is, as a result, considerable dissension among Jews who, when faced with an obviously common problem, waste time in useless argument among themselves on, first, whether there is a problem at all and, second, if there is one, what the best method is of solving it. And while they are coming to blows about it, the enemy sneaks up from the rear and annihilates the whole kaboodle of them.
Now, H. W. isn’t one of those guys who believes in regimenting opinion. Difference of opinion, like love, is what makes the world go round. Sometimes, like love again, it makes the world reel around in the manner of a drunk. Nevertheless, H. W. doesn’t want one uniform sentiment, or one sentiment dressed up in uniform, or even one army. What he does want is that this difference of opinion be dramatized. He wants these differences of opinion to dress up like football teams.
There are many Jewish organizations. Let each organize a football team. Let them do what the colleges do if necessary. Go out and buy up a good coach and let the coach go out and buy up the best football players available. Dress the eleven men appropriately, teach them tricky shifts, spinners, triple reverses, a dazzling forward passing attack. Let each Jewish organization start a band, a cheering squad. Then let them organize a Jewish Organizations Football Conference patterned after the Western football conferences. Schedules can then be arranged. On one Saturday the American Jewish Congress eleven will meet the eleven representing the American Jewish Committee. On another, the World Zionist Organization will meet the World Revisionist-Zionist Organization. The Mizrachi can tangle with the Agudath Israel. And so on ad infinitum.
Each game will be played to settle some specific argument. The American Jewish Congress can argue the necessity for a World Jewish Congress with the American Jewish Committee. Or they can battle it out on the gridiron with the boycott as the bone of contention.
People are tired of debates. But give them slashing, dazzling football games and they’ll turn out by the thousands, pay their money, cheer and make hoopla even in the rain.
Think how the money will roll in. The football conference will be able in a very short time to usurp the place of all the Jewish money collecting agencies. There will be more than enough in a jiffy to take care of the Reich refugees, the German-bound victims of the Nazi terror; enough to buy up all Palestine and settle millions of Jews in a national home there; plenty left over for our charities right here.
Personally, I’d pick the American Jewish Congress football squad as the winners of the Conference title. That is, if they had their redoubtable Four Horsemen in every game: quarterback Barney Deutsch, fullback Stevey Wise, left half-back Morris Rothenberg, right half-back Morris Margulies.
And wouldn’t Samuel Untermyer make a swell Judge Landis for the Conference?
Yes, sir, boys, let’s take the men off the dusty debating platforms, put them in football uniforms and plunk them down on a gridiron to fight it out for the salvation of world Jewry.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.