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The story of the Rachmones Rule

It was a game in 1984, and a team of older, taller boys from Baltimore was truly shellacking our younger, smaller, Pittsburgh team. They quickly led by more than 30 points, thanks to their superior size and talent — but also because they pressed their advantage in every possible way, keeping their starting players on the floor the whole time. 

At half-time, I turned to the other coach and said, “Let’s call this game. They’re just kids. There is no reason to extend this torture. At least let some of your bench play.” He laughed at me and continued coaching a highly aggressive game against our clearly overmatched team.

When I became continental director of the JCC Maccabi Games, it was important for me to institute the Rachmones (compassion) Rule, which held all our athletes, coaches and spectators to a high standard of sportsmanship, both on and off of the playing field.

Over time, it became part of the culture of the Games, helping teach our kids that in the big picture, empathy is far more important than winning and losing.


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