If I were a Yankees fan, I would be terribly offended right now.

For years, I would have been rooting for the team, paying for season tickets, going to every game decked out in gear, buying all kinds of memorabilia, and posting “Go Yankees!” on Facebook.

Now, it’s bad enough that the season is being postponed, but can you believe that they’re planning to play without anyone in the stands?

How is that even possible? How can a game be played without fans?

Now, because I’m not a sports fan, I don't take this to heart. But if I were, I’m guessing that at this point I would be pretty offended.

This entire debate about sports without fans is bringing to the forefront a stark reality: the players are the only ones who really matter. The game’s outcome depends on them, not the fans.

Yes, fans are an important part of the game—they add much to the atmosphere and the mood of the players. But they’re just fans.

To win the game, you need players, not fans.

This reminds me of one of my favorite stories.

When a young bar mitzvah boy came to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe, he was surprised when the Rebbe started asking him about baseball. The Rebbe then inquired about the game he had most recently attended.

"How was the game?" asked the Rebbe.

It was disappointing,” the 13-year-old confessed. “By the sixth inning, the Dodgers were losing nine to two, so we decided to leave.”

"Did the players also leave the game when you left?"

“Rabbi, the players can't leave in the middle of the game!”

“Why not?” asked the Rebbe. “Explain to me how this works.”

There are players and fans, the boy explained. The fans can leave when they like—they're not part of the game, and the game continues after they leave. But the players need to stay and try to win until the game is over.

“That is the lesson I want to teach you in Judaism,” said the Rebbe with a smile. “You can be either a fan or a player. Be a player.”


So that's it, my dear die-hard sports fans. You are very important, but to win the game, you really need to play.

This week, we will celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, the day we received the gift of Judaism. We can root for it, we can post exciting posts on Facebook, but most importantly, we need to actually play—to lead an active and proud Jewish life.