Guest Opinion: Violent sports
The Roman people 2,000 years ago would go to the coliseum on a Sunday afternoon to watch some helpless Christians fight for their lives' with wild beasts. For the Christians it was a foregone conclusion that they would be torn to pieces and devou...
The Roman people 2,000 years ago would go to the coliseum on a Sunday afternoon to watch some helpless Christians fight for their lives' with wild beasts. For the Christians it was a foregone conclusion that they would be torn to pieces and devoured, so the ending was not that much in doubt. That left the only reason for the spectators to be there was to see the grizzly results. What a way to spend the afternoon, huh? I am sure the majority of people stayed away because they had no stomach for that kind of sport.
I know using the above, for an analogy of today's sports, is a stretch of the imagination but as I watched football games last Sunday I couldn't help but draw some parallels. Over the course of the afternoon, at least a dozen players were carted off or helped off the field. Brain concussions, knees and shoulders torn apart seemed to be a recurring theme. One Seattle player hushed the crowd because he remained motionless for several minutes and we had no idea if he was paralyzed or just knocked unconscious. Then, enough football, so I channel surfed and took in the last minutes of a NASCAR race and watched a driver deliberately wreck another driver at over 100 mph. The announcer called it retribution for a similar incident, weeks before.
Much of what I have talked about could be avoided with a more subdued form of play but is that what the public wants to see? I'm thinking not. I'm thinking we pay big bucks to watch blood get spilled and not to watch some sissy game where sprained ankles are the only injury. Why is soccer not as popular in this country as football? Because there is little of the violent hits. Why are Talladega and Daytona so much more popular than half-mile tracks in NASCAR? Because they go twice as fast on those big tracks and the wrecks are spectacular. Yeah, right or wrong, we have a little bit of the Romans in us. Security people at football games, see a lot of fights in the stands. You add some alcohol and what the players are dishing out to each other on the field, is sometimes just enough to wet other people's appetites for mayhem. Fights have broken out in the parking lots and people have been badly injured, just for cheering on their team.
So what's the answer? Is it, if you don't like to watch this stuff, then watch something else? Or should we try to tone it down a bit and see if it's still violent enough for people and yet safer for the players? I would like to listen to some of the people involved. Professional football players, by in large, spend the rest of their lives in pain or with numb minds that can't think straight anymore. I had the occasion to talk with one once, a few years back at a conference I attended. You would know his name if I mentioned it, he was one of the great ones. He told me he couldn't sit still for over 15 minutes because his back hurts him so bad. He has to keep moving and is like a shark that must constantly swim or drown. He's addicted to painkillers but has few other options. He was in his 40s. Maybe half of his life lived.
Don't get me wrong I love sports. But people trying to kill each other-not so much.
Mike Holst is an author and resident of Crosslake.