I’ve read about the idea twice now. I’ve felt the ground swell of support, and the correct application of the idea to the sport of cycling may well be at hand.
The Onion Sports Network proposes that we’re getting increasingly bored with our sporting events, largely because the cost of losing is so inane. In times of old (think Roman Gladiators), the consequences of losing were limited to dieing.
Those competitors always maintained a heightened sense of focus and ambition, and the spectators loved them for it. Of course, half the spectators had to select a new hero after each event.
This isn’t necessarily the case with the modern athlete. Randy Moss confessed to less than enthusiastic effort on plays which didn’t include him ‘hauling in the rock’, and the only consequence he suffered was having to sign a new contract with the Super Bowl Champion Patriots.
Had the threat of disembowelment been present, Randy’s stress level while with the Vikings would have been heightened, impairing his ability to successfully participate in the post-victory party.
But let it be known- being a bit stressed out would be preferable to not being available to attend the party given by the grieving fans of the losing team.
What’s Good For Gladiators Is Good For Fly Fisherman (Cyclists Too)
But it’s not just football.
A correct application to the ‘non-revenue producing’ sports may be appropriate. My friend Tom Chandler recognizes the brilliance of this idea as it relates to his chosen sport of fly fishing. He’s become increasingly cranky (his potential for additional crankiness may have reached its limit) with the many fly fishing pretenders on the rivers and streams of Northern California.
He’s thrown down the gauntlet within the Trout Underground community, and while casual readership may have declined, rabid participation within his cult followers is at an all time high.
In a nutshell, Tom notes that violent execution of a fly fisherman after being skunked would eliminate this “it’s ‘just nice to be out on the water’ crap we hear from so many losers anglers”.
Before moving on to a correct application of this concept to the sport of bike racing, let me confide a certain disappointment with Tom at his desire to personally weasel out of his proposal by way of a set of transparent self-serving exemptions.
Had he read and enjoyed the fable of ‘The Little Red Hen’, as I did, he’d have eliminated several of the exemptions (like a Congressman, Tom has cleverly crafted the proposal in such a manner as to save himself to fish another day).
At the very least he could have written the exemptions to include a few of us, who consider him to be among our closest friends.
Trout Underground Meets Bike Snob
Now and then, when I feel the burning desire to subject myself to stinging cynicism, I’ll read what Bike Snob has to say. Not long ago he was grousing about the ‘pretenders’ in the cycling world taking themselves too seriously.
Snob was agitated by a bike-racing-pretender who wondered how he’d be able to ride an off-season workout while on a business trip. Snob correctly noted that if the business trip wasn’t related to the sport of bike racing (IE. the pretender wasn’t a pro racer) then he was fooling himself regarding the import of his ‘racing career’.
What better way to truly test the racer’s resolve than the proposal to execute all bike race participants except those atop the podium?
I’ve successfully forgotten most of what I’ve been exposed to by the Snob, but that one idea was begging to be wedded to the ‘losers must die’ mantra.
Bike racing is littered with riders (note that I didn’t say racers), who after coasting across the finish line, proclaim that it’s ‘just nice to be riding on a beautiful day like today’. Had the death sentence been a possibility, no day would look beautiful through their bloodshot eyes.
Pragmatism Has Its Place Too
While I consider myself to be a visionary, I also recognize the merits of pragmatism. Frankly, my revolutionary application of Gladiator-ism to bike racing would most likely result in race entries being limited to two or three of the strongest riders competing for the three podium spots.
In short, race participation would suffer.
So, as a preliminary step, I propose vigorous corporal punishment for the losers at the hands of local irate motorists. From within the ranks of the hostile motorists who bristle at the cyclist’s proclivity for riding four abreast or not stopping at stop signs, we would be assured of finding several Bubbas who’d eagerly wield flogging whips.
And herein lies the genius.
Not only would every racer ‘try harder’, but all road races and crits would be lined with spectators (no doubt all related to Bubba), eager to cheer on their whip-wielding hero at the loser’s circle.
While this proposal has been very well thought out, I begrudgingly acknowledge that you readers may have some ideas to contribute.
What say ye?