America's Most Critical Journal (since 1999)
Long Live Our Gladiators!
By Harvey J. Lieberman
19 January 2015
Revelations about concussion injuries among professional football players and the resulting National Football League settlement challenge cherished notions about our iconic national sport. The following translation of an ancient Roman papyrus scroll recently unearthed by the distinguished Harvard archeologist Dr. Reid Bologna gives historical evidence as to the actual generosity of the NFL settlement. Great empires have always had their cultural values quibblers, who would deny the sports-loving public character-building pleasures.
From the Desk of Roman Arenas Association CEO Claudius Gracchi
(Translated by Dr. Reid Bologna)
Fellow Romans, I am sending you this scroll to address scandalous talk about the fate of gladiators in our arenas. Some citizens, influenced by a few troublemaking Christians, unfairly characterize gladiators as being forced into the arena through slavery and starvation and leaving the arena as starving beggars. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The fact is that gladiators fighting in Roman Arenas Association venues have availed themselves of our empire’s liberal open immigration policy and excellent intensive warrior training programs to gain access into entertainment’s most prestigious occupation. Innumerable champions have gone from humble beginnings to become rich empire-class stars.
Although the gods do not permit all gladiators to reach the pinnacle of acclamation, this is no reason to badmouth our glorious sport. Still, I wish to acknowledge the appeals of fans who are concerned with the safety of the streets near our luxurious arenas after hearing doubtful rumors of roaming hordes of maimed gladiators coercing alms from passersby.
To address this problem (if it exists) our ever just Emperor has granted the Roman Arenas Association permission to create a first-of-its-kind gladiator relief plan to ensure that no gladiator, unemployable due to an employment-related injury, faces a life of degradation. The coverage and benefits provided through this plan are described below.
What is covered: Injuries inflicted during performances in public arenas. Included are injuries caused by swords, daggers, and other blades as well as arrows, javelins, and tridents. Also covered are wounds and disfigurement from the teeth and claws of lions, leopards, and bears, as well as bodily harm experienced from the trampling of hippopotami and rhinoceroses following a fall from a chariot.
What is not covered: Under no instances will overseer whippings intended to enhance performance or beatings for insubordination be a cause for compensation under this proclamation. Claimed psychological trauma from bullying in arena locker rooms during manly competitions comparing pectoral muscle size also do not qualify for relief.
Benefits: Healthcare services and disability compensation benefits will be available through this plan. Services offered will include payment for healthcare rendered through a network of highly qualified physicians. These healers must have completed a three-year internship at a temple with a sacred healing serpent in residence.
Covered healthcare services available to gladiators will include all medically necessary herbs, balms, unguents, mineral baths, and oils, as well as the design and manufacture of customized prosthetic limbs necessary to maintain income producing employment.
Expenses for up to 90 days per year in a public nursing facility will be reimbursed to allow for the lancing, draining, and healing of suppurating wounds and recovery from reoccurring fevers. Any plastic surgery that detracts from the proud public display of heroic scarring is not covered. No reimbursement is offered for out of network services or remedies not listed in the plan formulary.
Four levels of disability compensation will available to eligible gladiators. A gladiator qualifying for a 100% benefit will receive land and enough money to pay for and support themselves and three healthy slaves. In addition, those receiving full benefits and their significant others will receive three doles of public grain weekly and free entry to upfront platinum seating at all public arenas with access to a nearby parking location for their chariot. Gladiators having lesser injuries will be compensated proportionally for irremediable mutilations and their effect on income. For example, a gladiator qualifying for a three-quarters benefit will have demonstrated the equivalent to the loss of two limbs in any combination. Further guidelines on disability determinations will be issued shortly.
Note: As an additional benefit, gladiators wanting to increase their income are eligible for license as an authorized beggar and will be professionally trained, without charge, to seek alms in the most engaging manner near their arena of choice on festival days.
Obtaining benefits: Gladiators may apply for benefits at local arenas. Vestal virgins trained in plan enrollment will circulate in neighborhoods surrounding arenas to answer gladiator questions about plan benefits. False claims of disability will be punishable by dismemberment.
All hail the excitement of our arenas!
Harvey Lieberman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and healthcare administrator, who resides in New York City’s suburbs. His essays and cultural commentary have been published in the New York Times, Newsday, and other popular journals. After decades of avoiding football in all venues, he has recently begun enjoying games on TV and feels guilty about it.