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From Arena to Ice: Gladiatorial Games and Hockey Arenas

Courtesy of Barton Malow's Website

For centuries, people have been reliant on one thing in entertainment: conflict. If that conflict has violence or drama, the people will love it even more. This rang true in ancient Rome and Greece, where the average sporting event was the Olympics, or more importantly, a gladiator game. It was a display of guts, glory and, more importantly, hyper-masculinity. Only men deemed “fit” enough would perform in these strenuous events. And today, that takes place in the form of a hockey rink.


For starters, to be a gladiator or hockey player, you must be fit. There is no exception. You need years of training and hard work in order to be thrown into a violent field. Only the strong survive, and it shows in these respective sports. Prior to being a gladiator or hockey player, both would have had years of training or hardening leading up to this event. It's the only way to survive, after all.

As a gladiator, you need to fight to survive. On the other hand, a hockey player must perform and play well, or else risk losing a spot on the team or being traded.


This applies to all sports, not just hockey. If you take a closer look, the similarities between a colosseum and a sports arena are no different. Big, open-aired domes that are set to hold thousands. Ranging with booths for the wealthy or the upper stands for the people who are just happy to be there, not to mention the overconsumption amounts of food and alcohol on display. Coliseums and sporting arenas also tend to bring out people’s true colors, which are, albeit, never the best colors..


Courtesy Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The key to entertainment is violence, and this message still rings true. The main attraction of hockey games, similar to gladiator events, is the glory and violence. Hockey is one of those sports that allows you to hit your opposing teammate, just like in a coliseum where you can slash and stab your opponent. There are no rules barring it, and sometimes they let you go on for longer than is truly needed. But as long as the crowd is loud and loves it, that is what matters.

There is a lot of culture not only in ancient society but also in hockey. Ancient societies treated gladiators like it was a game, and hockey does the game thing. Both events have been capitalized on and exploited for public entertainment. Not only is the violence exploited, but everything around it. People used to bet on fighters; now you can bet on hockey players through money and apps. There are cult followings of certain gladiators, where some were worshiped like gods, and fans always do that with hockey players from both sides of the spectrum.

Courtesy Rick Bowmer / Associated Press file photo

The best part about this comparison is that the list continues. The saying “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes” still rings true. Even with the traditions of wearing certain armor, via special jerseys or suits, or pre-traditions such as a certain stretch or wrapping your stick (or sword, for that matter) with tape in a certain way.

Regardless, the comparison between gladiators and hockey still remains, and based on the current future of hockey, it will always remain.

Edited by: Lily Hayes

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