“The valiant never taste of death but once”
Any regular reader will know that I like to keep my posts light hearted and simple… like me. But I’ve had this post in me for some time now and although it is not fully realised yet, I want to cack-handedly explain my point and get your views on the subject.
The modern sports superstar is a complex beast. They are at the peak of physical fitness, mentally strong, media savvy and walking, talking advertisers of everything from sneakers to themselves. But how did they end up commanding so much of our attention and demanding so much in return when sports and the superstars themselves came from such humble, yet brutally hard roots as the Roman gladiator?
Usually prisoners of war or men who had fallen in to debt and sold their freedom to clear their debts, Roman gladiators had none of the luxuries that a modern sportsman has. Gladiators were essentially slaves, providing their owner with a financial income, despite not getting paid themselves and living in barracks like soldiers. Although some of the more successful ones may have had minor-celebrity status and regular members of society may take an interest in their form (similar to that of a racehorse) on the whole they were not liked in society and were seen to be good for only one thing – fighting!
Although they were the lowest of the low, these men were involved in one of the earliest sports and people paid to see them fight for survival which they saw as entertainment. So how did we get to the stage now where sports men and women are paid gigantic sums of money to entertain us? Whether it be in the stadium or sitting at home with our pay-per-view watching the hard men of Le Tour slug it out on the slopes of France it is the sportsman who has become the most important part of the relationship, demanding our attention and pushing us to look, buy and behave they way they do.
In such a materialistic world it’s hard to imagine our society where we are the ones who control the path and legacy of our sports ‘entertainers’. Modern sport is more like a drug. A drug we can’t do without and sacrifice other parts of our lives to make sure we don’t miss out on that endorphin riddled high. I haven’t read the entire history of the world yet, but this change in the way sportsmen are viewed in society happened at some time. If you have time this week, you could read it all for me and let me know!
Somewhere along the line the modern sports superstar has morphed from a controlled, despised and lowly member of society into an all-powerful super being. Well… most of them!