Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Gladiators and Spartacus, Miami Dolphin-style … by gimleteye

The lurid revelations that Miami Dolphins A team players forced younger and less assertive members of the squad to pick up lavish meals and expenses -- including ritual bullying -- struck a chord.

I was a fan of the now-defunct cable TV series (Starz), "Spartacus". Amongst the glorified gladiators held in captivity, there was the same subplot: younger, less assertive males dominated by the alphas.

I've always favored the comparison with imperial Rome.

The performance of certain Miami Dolphin players in private, tormenting their co-workers, brings the comparison to life. With its extreme violence, football mostly closely resembles the colosseum's performers. And like today's stadiums, the colosseums' seating proved out societal standing that was, surprise, organized around wealth and power.

American football has company among professional sports in its internal hierarchies marked by manly bullying off the field. Roman gladiators were also held as a breed apart from ordinary citizens. Just go to any big college dining room and watch the segregation of athletes from ordinary students at work.

In Rome, the gladiators were slaves, kept alive only to fight another day.

The writers of "Spartacus" imagined the behavior of these captives, when they were allowed to uncork amongst themselves. Add SUV's, diamond earrings, fawning agents and bespoke suits, and "Spartacus" is not so far from the NFL at all.

The only mystery: that these arrangements have become mainstream cultural values of American exceptionalism.


Anonymous said...

mirror of youth sports in miami.

Anonymous said...

Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator, led a slave revolt against Rome. When his 120,000-man army was defeated by 10 Roman legions, 6,000 of those captured were publicly crucified. Yes, crucified.

American Exceptionalism, individualism, and capitalism all go hand-in-hand. I can't imagine why you would think that these values would not be expressed in football.