A Miracle from God: Jewish Yeshiva University are Currently on the Longest Winning Streak in Male College Basketball
Before we get into the meat of this story, I’d like you, the reader, to try and think of any famous Jewish athletes or sportspeople, and as you undoubtedly come up short, you’ll realise how impressive this achievement is.
New York’s Yeshiva University is far more likely to produce accountants, doctors, and rabbis than Basketball players, however, the third division college team is now making headlines around the world for their unexpected success. Over the weekend, the ‘Maccabees’ cruised to their 38th consecutive victory with a 105-52 win against Penn State Schuylkill.
As someone who has always blamed a combination of my height and religion for a lack of sporting abilities (especially when it comes to basketball), this news brings with it mixed emotions. While I’m happy for the unexpected success of my brethren and the breaking of stereotypes, I can’t help but feel slightly jealous that the athletes in this team have been blessed with the rare gift of athletic superiority, something once thought extinct within Jewish genes.
Much of the Maccabees’ success over the last two seasons can be attributed to star player Ryan Turrell, who turned down offers from Div-1 schools to attend Yeshiva. Standing at 6 ft 7 inches with long blonde hair, it’s fair to say that the only stereotypically Jewish part of him is tucked in his undies during each game. While commentators have stated that he could easily make it in the European League, he’ll be pushing hard to grab the attention of NBA scouts and hopefully, become the second-ever Div-3 player to make the league, after the Heat’s Duncan Robinson.
Turrell’s success has somewhat overshadowed the tremendous team effort that has led to this winning streak, with the players evoking the spirit of the original Maccabees, a group of rebel Jewish warriors who existed from around 170 BC to 70 AD. The Maccabees fought against the Hellenisation of their land, as the ancient Greeks attempted to convert scores of Jews to Hellenism, which included having to reverse their circumcision.
Understandably the Maccabees were having none of this and rebelled against all things Greek, which included public sporting events such as wrestling and athletics. Ultimately the Maccabees overcame their oppressors, with the battle culminating in the ‘miracle of Hannukah’ which saw them find a tiny jug of unspoiled oil amongst the wreckage of their former temple. The oil ended up lighting the sacred candles for eight days, a streak that is nearly as unexpected as Yeshiva’s 38 match run.
The current streak only sits behind Women’s Hope College’s 45 game streak, and the ‘state of Israel’s’ 54-year streak of Palestinian occupation, but the Maccabees are hoping to continue their run all the way to the title this year. They line up against Eastern Connecticut State on Wednesday night and will look to make it 39 in a row, but they’ll play knowing they have already achieved far more than anyone expected of them.
So, could you think of any famous Jewish athletes? If you couldn’t, now you can. Remember the name. Ryan Turrell.
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