THE SUPER GAMES
As one of the tens of millions who communed yesterday
by watching Giants beat Patriots, did you for a moment wonder if history will see us as we view the ancient Romans.
There's a story about a festival in 160 BC that was to honor a famous playwright. Mid way in the performance about a mother in law some one announces the Gladiator Games were about to begin. The audience for the play, vanished.
It seems the Romans also loved their super games, but
we've added the ironic wrinkle of watching commercials as a kind of sport. Who gets credit for this clever advent? There are contests, evaluation web sites and news stories about
which commercial we liked the most. It blows my mind. During the rest of the year commercials are considered an annoyance, something to endure or speed through with our DVRs, but not on Super Sunday.
Chariot racing was a big sport with the Romans, the source of heavy wagering. Chariot drivers were early superstars. Then came the Gladiator Games.
Some have compared the NFL to modern Gladiator Games, but we need to be careful here. First those Ancient Romans staged games that were to the death. Thousands watched and cheered as the combatants played a real blood bath and death match.
Then, another kind of insidious and sinister spin on the game set the Romans apart from us. Toward the end of the Republic Gladiator Games were sponsored by politicians. It is true. Roman pols sponsored the games to boost their standing. In a tribute to the idea "things never change" the Roman Senate tried unsuccessfully to curb political sponsorship.
So on balance, we must be a tad bit more evolved.
When the Boston fans talk about sacking Belichick, it is only a figure of speech, a non lethal deposing of which they foment. And mercifully it was Madonna who provided our half time enjoyment. Were we truly like the Romans, it could have been Newt Gingerich prancing in high boots and short shorts, or Mitt Romney being carried in by legions of the 99%.
How would historians have regarded that?