Allan Takes Aim Blog

Colosseums and gladiators still exist

Posted on: 8 June 2013

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Colosseums and gladiators still exist

Sport stadia, indoor ones included, are merely old Colosseums under a new name. While you might only know Colosseums from history they were arenas where gladiators satisfied their need to show themselves as strong, ruthless men with the killer instinct and tried to satisfy the blood lust of the thousands of spectators who had come to witness the killing.

Although the killing today is not physical but mental, the underlying motivation is a case of plus ça change plus c’est la même chose, with one significant difference: it is more common today for women to become gladiatrices (mow more commonly called battleaxes) as recorded by Roman writers Tacitus and Petronius in the reign of Emperor Nero and Suetonius in the reign of Emperor Domitian.

In some respects however, today’s gladiatrices of tennis have at least one characteristic in common with the gladiators of Rome. As they fire their serves at their opponents their accompanying screams and shouts probably sound more terrifying than anything a gladiator served up to his opponent. And probably the screams and shouts of spectators also match those of the spectators at the Colosseum.

When the tribal war system which maintained gladiatorial killing throughout the ages collapsed, it was replaced with sport, a gladiatorial system that did not involve killing. This spurred all kinds of organised sporting contests such as rugby union, rugby league and soccer that were played in stadiums.

It was only to be expected the man’s world of that time it would be men only sports that were supported. This is why soccer became the number one sport in Britain and then around the world where it is now growing stronger in countries where previously it struggled. I suspect the reason for its growing popularity is that it has being taken up and supported by women who stopped being spectators in favour of participation.

Some sport such as tennis and hockey that had been played for a long time by women continued to be played but without ever reaching the popularity levels of the gladiatorial sports. Nonetheless, women eventually started asking why they couldn’t play the gladiatorial sports and finding no good reason why, began their own organised contests.

But it was Baron de Coubertin’s Olympic Games and sporting philosophy that he sold successfully to many countries that became the catalyst that advanced women’s contests making it inevitable that contests between women became part of the sporting gladiatorial scene. But that’s not the only reason it advanced, it also advanced because sport became part of school curriculums.

And as more and more women took up sport, more and more sporting opportunities were opened up to them so that today women participate in the myriad athletic events that are part of today’s Olympic Games. Indeed women’s sport is now featuring prominently on the sporting calendar of many nations and perhaps more importantly sport now has a major role to play in the life of people with a disability through the Paralympic Games.

Sadly however, some men playing at the top level of football in Australia seem to have succumbed to using violence like gladiators in the old Colosseum claiming that violence such as king hitting, biting your opponent or felling them to prevent goals being scored is only to be expected.

Perhaps they might remember that the Colosseum in Rome and the many Colosseums built elsewhere in the old Roman world, are either now nothing but ruins or have vanished completely. And they might care to note also that the almost continuous stream of violence that bedevil the world today does not produce winners.

That said let’s keep the violence of the old Colosseums out of the new ones.

Comment welcome.

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20 Responses to "Colosseums and gladiators still exist"

This post caused me to wonder long term player health is an issue in sports such as rugby and ARF as it is currently in America. The effect of repeated concussions has become a hot topic and the suicides of some star players thought to be the effect of the brain damage caused by concussions has garnered much attention here.

The same thing is happening in Australia. Indeed concussion is the subject of much discussion across the globe but particularly in the UK and Europe, where soccer is the major game, because players head the ball a lot.

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Pick up a map at City Hall and check the actual city’s self-guided early walking tour.

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