Blood Sports

The crowd chants. The emperor stands and slowly his hand turns to give the thumbs down – signalling the end. The crowd bays for more. Blood is spilled onto hallowed turf.
Human exploitation for the purposes of entertainment is generally considered a bad thing. The pioneers of the Human Rights movement would be aghast at the suggestion that people are being harried into long hours of strenuous activity, sleep deprivation, poor diet and exorbitant amounts of pressure from public expectation all for the sake of entertaining the masses. And no, I’m not talking about reality television.
Not since the blood of brave slaves was spilled by gladiators in the Colosseum of Rome have human bodies been so mercilessly and strenuously tested for our enjoyment.
It’s a hard life – but today’s sports stars have nothing on their first century counterparts – who could quite literally be reduced to counting parts following a bout in the gladiatorial arena. Oh bugger, there goes my arm. And a leg.
Sport is, as Mark’s comment on my last post suggested, hard work. I’m not denying that. Athletes train at odd hours, stick to strict diets, undergo an invasive regime of drug testing, and are deprived of basic human rights such as privacy while being forced to maintain a level of performance, or in fact show constant improvement. This no doubt takes its toll on the psyche. And so, sports stars are adequately recompensed with fame, fortune and the chance to trip the light fantastic – traveling the globe, earning the admiration and respect of thousands of awestruck fans as they strut their stuff demonstrating their feats of athletic prowess. Unlike the gladiators of old these modern day marionettes are completely untethered (except by the obviously incredibly binding contracts) – they can leave whenever they please without fear of reprisal… except perhaps if your name is Steve Turner and you don’t want to play for the Titans… well at least without the fear of physical reprisal.
So amidst the turmoil of the Trescothick saga, and to the fanfare of a flash of camera bulbs and a flurry of questions from the peanut gallery (but no trumpets), we bid farewell to Ian Thorpe – the podiatricly endowed superfish who has graced pool and podium for all of his adult life to date. We wish him well in his retirement at the ripe old age of 24. He’s lived a full life and leaves with no regrets, and nothing to achieve, except perhaps success in the elusively exclusive aquatic 100 metre dash. The aquatic superstar with the perpetual five o’clock shadow has gone out at the top rather than being tortuously knackered at the metaphorical athletic glue factory. A fine example of the graceful withdrawal which could have saved Trescothick the ignominy of going down in very public flames. But at the end of the day – the battlefield is bathed in the blood and corpses of long retired sports people that refuse to decompose into obscurity (some even rise occasionally to release pits of bile on those unsuspecting dolts who choose to follow the well trod path – ala Kieren Perkins, Jeff Thompson, Dawn Fraser et al and lest we forget those who choose to head to the commentators box…), and the harsh reality of life as a professional sportsperson has claimed another victim. What awaits our outgoing Thorpedo? Life as a fashion designer, a coach, a (shudder) television personality… or will he fade into the shadows of anonimity – only to be foiled by the occassional obsessive fan spotting his massive feet somewhere under the designer stubble and the foppish hair.

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

3 thoughts on “Blood Sports”

  1. I don’t think he’s retired. I bet he’s planning to make a tear-jerking comeback as the nostalgic crowd favourite/underdog at the 2012 Olympics.
    He’s probably already planning his 2010 training regime as we speak…
    …and then he can sell the movie rights and it’ll all be made into a tear-jerking Hollywood blockbuster with some outrageously good-looking actor with digitally-enhanced feet and foppish hair in the lead role.
    I should be a conspiracy theorist. I’m good at it.

  2. There was a very funny incident on radio today where the commentator announced “Ian Thorpe has come out today (starts coughing). ” Her coughing fit was rapidly drowned out by her male countapart’s laughing. What an unfortunent time to start coughing. If you have had your head in the sand you’ll know of course that the majority of the male pop. believe he is gay and so was coming out of ‘the closet’… And of course after a gaff like that the whole story seems to have undertones and destroyed the poor girl’s confidence. It was rather funny though

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