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  • April 29, 2005

    Sports Nicknames and the Jews

    Jewish Week

    When an ethnic group or race endearingly becomes the nickname for a sports team, does that signal their arrival or shame? Native Americans have long decried the way sports fans have adopted tomahawk chops and tribal chants as ways to either root for or ridicule the Indians, Braves, and Redskins. On the other hand, the Irish don't seem at all bothered by Notre Dame's celebration of the poetry to their more pugnacious side.

    Now Jews, who have played such prominent roles in the achievements and sufferings of European history - each in disproportionate numbers - have become the subject of a curious and special outpouring of sports fanatasism. Last year, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" elevated Jews to a special villainy. Now Jewish identity and culture has been linked to the passions emanating from a European soccer team.

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