Sports, Identity, and Justice
Ep. 7: From Sandy Koufax to Sue Bird
On this series, we’ve explored sports as a tool for American Jews to assimilate into their broader communities, to establish and pass down family traditions, and even how sports can be a love language for us. But what if sports is quite literally a way we can tell a rich story of Jewish identity?
This episode focuses on how sports have acted as a cipher to crack the code of what it means to be Jewish in America. We talk to Dan Grunfeld, son of Ernie Grunfeld—the only NBA player to be born to Holocaust survivor parents—and a former professional basketball player himself, about his family’s deeply intertwined Jewish and basketball identities. We discuss the strange saga of Major League Baseball’s Ryan Braun, an all-star who did not really identify as Jewish, until he did, and a player American Jews were excited to claim as Jewish, until they weren’t. We also parse the question of whether sports are just, and trace a path from Sandy Koufax to WNBA star Sue Bird.
Over the course of this series, host Meredith Shiner explores how Jewish culture, American culture, and sports culture intersect. She’ll talk to journalists, athletes, amateur and professional sports nerds, and fans who have spent as much time obsessing over these topics as she has.
Ep. 6: The Sports Mitzvah
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