Monday, July 21, 2014

The Price of Entertainment in paintings and more

Since very early times humans have paid to watch sports/spectacles for entertainment.  That the athletic people might be injured or killed was not the concern of the viewer, in fact, it was part of the attraction for the sport.  In ancient Rome gladiatorial events drew thousands of fans, spectacles and events drew people from across the empire, to see the bravest, best, and most gory.  There is no reason to think this was the first expression of spectacle as entertainment, but it is well documented and remembered, because the empire kept records.

In modernity we still see sports as entertainment and much entertainment through spectacle.  However, the attitudes about safety are changing the games people watch, and the fear of a spectacle of a tragedy or tragic injury is changing those sports.  The cost of injuries are making people reconsider participation.  And there is part of the rub.  In ancient Rome the participants in most of the gladiatorial combats were not free men.  They were slaves, trained and some quite able, but the lack of freedom meant they had no choice to compete.

Concussions are the main source of fear, but there are also game related issues that cause worry.  Use of human performance enhancing drugs means more spectacular sports, but also at a cost of human physical damage and dna changes in some.

A fair question too, is, what role does economic class play in the choice of people who see sports as the only way to escape poverty.  If an athlete has no option, it might not be slavery, but it is very possible that the athlete will ignore injury concerns in the hope for a great payday.

There are other sports as well that are often as much spectacle as they are competition.  Auto racing fans often challenge the notion that they like a sport for the crashes, and that is by no means false.  But the possible crashes add to the edge of the seat excitement that the sports fan is hoping to view.  So crashes aren't desired, perhaps are even hoped not to happen, but the danger of such is part of the draw.  In ancient Rome the chariots were not always driven by slaves, so, the aspect of that sport being a choice is more relevant, but, it is a spectacle due to the possible fatal crashes.

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