Enough Already With Koufax
A new book argues that the roster of Jewish jocks includes matadors, weightlifters, and competitive eaters
At first glance, the appeal of an essay collection titled Jewish Jocks might seem limited to a small, if fervent, readership. In fact, the anthology, edited by former Tablet writer Marc Tracy and New Republic editor Franklin Foer, is lively and full of surprises, even for readers with no horse in this race. In essays by writers as varied as Simon Schama, David Bezmozgis, Emily Bazelon, and David Brooks, there are entries on the usual suspects, such as Barney Ross and Sandy Koufax. But the collection also includes profiles of lesser-known talents like Soviet weightlifter Grigory Novak, Brooklyn-born matador Sidney Frumpkin, as well as downright mediocre (but beloved to some) players like Mets right-fielder Art Shamsky. Finally, there are those included in the collection for the ways they elevated sport (Raiders General Manager Al Davis, sportswriter Robert Lipsyte) or, conversely, besmirched it (basketball point-shaver Jack Molinas, Third Reich-representing fencer Helene Mayer). Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry is joined by Tracy and Foer to talk about how they determined whom to include and whom to leave out, and about some of their favorite contributions to the collection. [Running time: 25:00.]
In 1987, Brian Kelly was Jedd Fisch’s camp counselor. Now they’re both big-shot college football coaches.