Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Modern Gladiators

Few of us would condone a resurrection of the Roman Colosseum, where throngs of rabid citizens were entertained by the suffering and death of captive slaves, a tool used by the Emperors to distract the public from their own miserable lives.  We humans, after all, have evolved over the past twenty centuries and are now sensitive to both human rights and the welfare of each and every member of society.  We do what we can to protect the health of our gladiators.

Unfortunately, we humans are still entertained by public humiliation and suffering and our modern gladiators, in the form of boxers, cage fighters, hockey players and football stars, provide that service.  While medical studies continue to highlight the risk of repeated head injuries, eventually leading to traumatic dementia, we, in the interest of economics and entertainment, choose to overlook the evidence, satisfied with the preventive regulations and technologies offered by the power brokers of the sports industry.  The athletes, after all, choose to engage in their respective sport (just as soldiers, stuntmen and prostitutes accept the risks of their careers).

Like the Colosseum of ancient Rome, our modern stadiums offer a form of entertainment that many, if not most, members of society relish.  When one of the gladiators is injured and carried from the field, we stop to offer our collective thoughts and prayers; then, its back to the action, the punishing hit replayed on a giant screen for all to admire.  Meanwhile, less acute and more insidious injuries go unnoticed, at least until early dementia or suicide bring them to light.