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Why Sports Matter:
Athletics and Human Excellence

Why do great athletes, great teams, and great victories against all odds inspire us? Drawing upon great films (like Chariots of Fire), short videos of exceptional athletes (like Michael Jordan), ancient texts, great speeches, and modern stories, we will try to make sense of the deeper meaning of sport: the natural gifts, the competitive drive, the agony of defeat, the glory of victory, the nature of sportsmanship, and the humility and gratitude that many great athletes demonstrate for what they achieve. We will also look at some of the darker sides of competitive sports—including the use of performance-enhancing drugs and the transformation of athletics into mere spectacle and entertainment. Should we admire athletic excellence as an example of human beings at their best? What does the Jewish tradition teach us about the human significance of sport?