It's not all that common to see a professional athlete -- or pretty much anyone else for that matter -- stand up for their faith in a sacrificial way.
Fifty years ago today, on October 6, 1965, Sandy Koufax made baseball history by refusing to pitch the first game of the World Series because it fell on the most holy day of the year for Jews. Yom Kippur, or "the Day of Atonement," is observed on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. On this day Jews attend synagogue, confess their sin, and fast from food and drink. Other traditions include not washing, not wearing leather shoes, not using perfume or oil, and refraining from marital relations. Yom Kippur is observed even by many Jews who don't participate in other aspects of the faith.
Sandy Koufax put God and his religious community ahead of his work and ahead of potential fame. He was a great pitcher, considered unhittable, and would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. His biography states:
"Koufax also made headlines for adhering to his faith. With Game 1 of the 1965 World Series slated to fall on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, Koufax famously sat out the game in observance. He returned and lost the following day, but won Games 5 and 7 to clinch the championship for his team, further cementing his status as an icon to both his religious community and Dodgers fans."*
I think Koufax did right. God is more important than money, than a job, than a team. For this, he is a good person to emulate.