Title Tish'a: the new brand of equity in sports
March 31, 2003, 5:00 am·
(This article appeared in the 3/31/03 joke issue)
Jewish boys don't play football, they own the teams.
Does this stereotype sound familiar? If it does, you are probably one of the thousands of Jews worldwide -- 90 percent of whom go to Penn -- who are familiar with the gross minority of Jews in sports.
Penn Athletic Director Steve Bilsky plans to do something about this, as yesterday he announced the implementation of Title Tish'a.
Similar to Title IX, Tish'a is designed to achieve Jewish parity in sports, enforcing a strict proportionality clause which says that sports teams at Penn must contain a number of Jews in proportion to that of the entire student body -- this year, 40 percent.
"The Bible says that the Jews are God's chosen people, but in playgrounds around the country, they are always the last chosen for kickball and basketball teams," Bilsky said in a statement announcing the plan yesterday. "But that is all about to change."
The new rule draws its name from the Hebrew word for nine -- Tish'a.
"I admit, I didn't know the word Tish'a," Bilsky said. "So I walked up Locust Walk and yelled, 'Who here knows Hebrew?' and, oddly enough, someone did. In fact, 45 or 50 people did."
While Tish'a was only announced yesterday, it has already drawn criticism from other minority groups -- including Eskimos and hermaphrodites -- who claim that they too are poorly represented on Penn's sports teams.
Nevertheless, Bilsky stands up for his decision.
"If Eskimos gave 30 billion dollars to this school each year, they too would get a special title," he said.
This new ruling has sent Quakers' coaches on a recruiting frenzy as they try to fill their rosters with Jews.
"I've put in some calls to the coaches at Yeshiva and Brandeis," Penn men's basketball coach Fran Dunphy said. "But I don't really think this ruling is going to help our chances of rebuilding the team. I mean, there's a reason why those two teams suck at basketball."
While it is difficult for Dunphy to find Jews who are good enough to play for the Red and Blue, it is not impossible. In fact, Dunphy has recruited Jews in the past, before Title Tish'a was enacted.
"Sure Jews can't dunk," said David Klatsky, one of the Jews who played for Penn before Tish'a. "But we are smart and can do things to compensate for this. For example, nobody can pull off the flop like a Jew."
Another Jewish player under Dunphy applauds the new proportionality policy.
"It's about time," senior Koko Archibong said. "This is the greatest thing to happen for Jews in college sports since that Jewish kid almost got recruited by Maryland."
While many were surprised about Archibong's faith, even more were surprised by another basketball player's revelation that he wasn't Jewish.
"Everyone thinks I'm Jewish because my name's Schiffner and I go to Penn," junior Jeff Schiffner said. "I get it all the time. But look at me -- I'm 6'6". How many Jews do you know who are that tall?"
Penn football coach Al Bagnoli claims to be having an even more difficult time filling his roster with Jews.
"There are over 80 guys on this football team, that means that I need to have over 30 Jews," he said. "I don't even think there are 30 Jewish kids who play football. When I asked why the numbers were so low, I kept getting responses about owning the teams or something."
But numbers aren't the only problem with fielding a 40-percent Jewish football team.
"Apparently Saturday is what the Jews call Shabbat, a day of rest," Bagnoli said. "It turns out we play every one of our games on Shabbat. So now I have to find 30 Jewish kids who play football and don't care about Shabbat. As the Jews would say, 'Oy vey!'"
Title Tish'a presents other logistical problems in various sports.
"We've had trouble finding waterproof yarmulkes," Penn swim coach Mike Schnur said.
Other Penn teams -- especially tennis, golf, and fencing -- have had very little trouble with Title Tish'a.
"Jews -- one percent of the world's population, 40 percent of Penn's student body, 100 percent fencing machines," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "Fencing is the perfect sport for Jews -- there's no running involved and it involves outsmarting your opponent."
Several other changes will be made to Penn athletics to compensate for the influx of Jews due to Title Tish'a.
Announcements at the Palestra and Franklin Field will not only be in English, but also Yiddish, game programs will now be printed backwards, and gefilte fish will be added to concession stands.
"It doesn't take an Einstein -- a Jew, by the way -- to see that for all of time Jews have been suppressed in sports," Bilsky said. "We only hope that this program will be able to help Jewish people worldwide realize their athletic potential."