|All of us share a certain amount of animal characteristics. We have the
innate ability to survive through almost any obstacle standing in the way of
our goals - "when the going gets tough, the tough get going." For sports
fans, it's in our nature to enjoy gladiators taking the field of combat with
one common ambition: to be victorious. No matter how barbarian it may seem,
we enjoy those bone-crushing hits or a mighty left hook that may leave the
opponent counting sheep. We enjoyed those Rocky movies for the mere violence
of two individuals beating each other to a pulp. Same goes for last year's
monster hit "The Gladiator" - need I say more.
In some ways we've become the audience from "The Running Man" movie. We've
come to expect the violence, the blood, the pain, and the defeat of our
athletes as we cheer with each punch thrown. We dance in the aisles when we
see our favorite wrestling hero DDT his foe as if it were Mardi Gras. Hey,
I'm just as guilty. Remember those after school fights? I made sure I was
there with front row seats and buttered popcorn.
When is enough going to be enough? The public places bets on boxing warriors
in the ring. Is he going to knock him on his ass? Is he going to make it to
the fifth round? When that athlete gets knocked face first to the mat, we
don't ask -"is he aight?" Instead we scream at our television sets "GET UP,
YOU LOSER!" Is it because the mortgage used to place the bet is slipping away
or the $49.95 for the pay-per view must get its full worth? Maybe it's the
animal characteristic kicking in.
Sadly, in our minds we tend to believe our athletes are invincible and there
is nothing they can't do during combat. We're not concerned with who they are
and how they got there - only thing that matters is their endurance. Sport
fans have seen it all: from the many highs to the many lows, we've celebrated
on the top and have gone through the pitfalls during defeat. From a
basketball player being out four to six weeks for a broken ankle to a
football player paralyzed from a career ending, life altering hit. But,
recently, what truly prompted me to write this piece was a small column I
read a week ago. The headline read "Boxer Dies in the Ring."
In the movies it's pretty much predictable. We knew that Sylvester Stallone
would make a comeback and win. We knew Arnold would be victorious in "The
Running Man". We already know that whether our fictitious athletes win or not
they will at least be in another flick. But in reality things don't always
end with rolling credits. On June 26th a 26-year-old light-heavyweight boxer
by the name of Beethoven "Sweet Bee" Scottland, died from a knockout blow
sustained in the 10th round, suffering through six days of coma before final
transition. The irony of this story is the fact that Scottland was a
replacement for another boxer. Unfortunately, this is a story we didn't see
on the six o'clock news coverage. Unlike Stallone and Arnold, Sweet Bee
doesn't get another public appearance.
I use this point to indicate our aggressive nature and our lack of true
concern for our athletes. We may be saddened, angry, disgusted, or revolted,
but only for a minute until the next fight on pay per view. It doesn't matter
that Tyson made Holyfield dinner for the night or "Sweet Bee" Scottland died
from a boxing match. The only thing that concerns our so-called refined
society is "when's the next fight?" In many ways, our mentality has been
twisted to enjoy the defeat of certain athletes at almost any cost with no
regard for the outcome. We now have our own children emulating the wrestling
moves they're seeing from the WWF, killing or brutally injuring their younger
siblings in hopes they'll be the next Rock or Stone Cold Steve Austin - if
just for a moment.
Our thirst for violence has grown dramatically in modern times, increasing
our capacity to return to the games of the true gladiators. Before this
occurs we all need to have a little thought session with ourselves, take a
seat and RIDE THE BENCH.
To comment on this or any other column by Drew "The Truth" Alexander, email