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I heard a long time ago from a high-school rebbe of mine that G-d gave Gentiles sports / athletics to distract them from attacking Jews. What is the source of this concept?

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Hello Dan. Psalm 19:5 is often rendered "[l]ike a groom coming from the bridal chamber; it rejoices like an athlete running a course." Interesting incontext of your question. –  JJLL Jul 17 at 15:07

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Closest idea I've ever seen was daf 6b in Megila, where it says Germamia (Germania), and the Medrash in Toldos adds Barbaria, were used to occupy Rome's energies so they wouldn't have time to annihilate us.

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