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Carmel Newsreel II-150, June 5, 1954

Water Sport Competition

1 Minute, 1954
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Directed by: Nathan Axelrod
Subtitles: English, Hebrew
A charming little film I happened to come across whilst the perusing the website, at the centre of which is a somewhat bizarre sports competition between the Navy’s official team and the portmen’s team before a crowd of hundreds of ecstatic locals. The competition first begins with a game of water polo, then goes on to a springboard diving section, followed by a swimming competition with a spoon and egg in your mouth (which under no circumstances are you to drop) and finally culminating in a strange version of tightrope walking where contestants must walk along a greased up pole over ice cold water. In other words, a very early version of Ninja Warrior Israel (or rather, British Mandatory Palestine) with Mayor Meir Dizengoff and wife, Zina assuming host duties (well, not quite. Dizengoff may have been Tel Aviv’s onetime mayor but that was in the 1920s and ‘30s. At the time when this competition was held, Tel Aviv’s mayor was Chaim Levanon… but far be it from historical accuracy to get in the way of turning a phrase.) And so whilst this was not, by any means a major sporting event – if what it was can even be described as sport – but when all is said and done, this delightful little film is a reminder that ultimately and fundamentally, sport is a competition between people who, if only for a moment, get to become children once again whose most important mission is to not drop that egg.

A water polo game between the Israeli Navy team and the Tel Aviv Port workers team. A large audience observes and cheers. The team players compete and perform headlong dives. A second more humorous competition in which the swimmers carry teaspoons with eggs in their mouths and attempt to climb a greased pole over cold water.


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