JEWS IN SPORTS!!! You may be aware that the first athlete to win 7 gold medals in a single Olympic games (Mark Spitz) was Jewish. You may have know that it was a Jew (Ossie Schectman) who scored the first basket in NBA history or that Nancy Lieberman may be the G.O.A.T. of women's basketball. You may know that the first foreign club team to beat an NBA team was Maccabi Tel Aviv. You may remember that Sandy Koufax was the first pitcher to throw 4 no-hitters or that Hank Greenberg would have been the single-season non-steroid HR champ if they had pitched to him the last several weeks of the season (he ended with 58 because people didn't want to see a Jew break Babe Ruth's record). If you like tennis you might know the names of the Israeli double champions Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich who won the Australian Open doubles title in 2008. Maybe you like judo and know that tiny Israel is a judo powerhouse in the Olympics - 5 of our 9 medals are in the sport, with the first being by Yael Arad's silver medal in 1992. Speaking of fighting, you probably are aware that Israelis invented krav maga. But did you know that it was an 18th c. boxer named Daniel Mendoza who invented many of the defensive strategies boxers use today? Maybe you are old enough to remember Sid Luckman who was the first quarterback to throw for 7 touchdowns in a single game (and still hold many NFL records) back in 1943.
But soccer/football? We haven't set many records in "the beautiful game" apart from having the world's oldest player - a 74-year old goalkeeper (https://www.israelhayom.com/2019/04/08/israeli-becomes-guinness-world-records-oldest-soccer-player/), nor have we had many superstar players. It would help if Israel could actually make a World Cup (we qualified once, in 1970). But apparently, we have had an impact on the game far beyond measure. It was an Israeli idea to go to a penalty shootout at the end of a tie-game. You now, instead of flipping a coin to determine the winner. For more on this incredible story, click here: https://blog.nli.org.il/en/hoi_penalties/. Somewhere though, Roberto Baggio is silently weeping...
Next time you come to Israel, your Israel tour guide will be happy to take you to a game where you can celebrate Israeli innovation :).
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