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Sunday, October 22, 2017


by Katie Chicquette Adams

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday and may miss the rest of the season. Credit Bruce Kluckhohn AP via The Charlotte Observer, October 17, 2017.

Though the Roman Empire is long
behind us, cultural remnants survive:
we still gorge on gladiators, groomed
for maybe not death, but a definite
kind of destruction
for our distraction.
We are still the Romans
paying the gross
ticket price, shaking our heads
in something like sadness
or shock when men trained to be tough
fail to be gentle enough.

We slaver with feigned concern, 

fans susceptible to the schadenfreude
of modern athletics, anxiously
awaiting the next agile, brawny feats
performed by men of a singular will
who know that in this world,
competing is what they can do well.
They push on, pawns of passion, paid
in glory and more,
hoping for less possessive,
more benevolent owners
who will mete out compassion
over control, respect over derision
for fighters choosing feet,
knees, or absenteeism as the
musical ode to past bloody battles
unnecessarily peals, and viewers believe
theirs to be the worthiest appeals--
because who are these gladiators
to dare to think, to speak, to feel?

These 21st century warriors
we parade and glorify,
degrade and deconstruct. 

We are fiercely invested
in players whose pockets we line,
personally disappointed (though
generally unaffected)
by their platform management
by their life-changing injuries,
disrupting our coveted consumption
of physical prowess
we neither possess nor deserve,
hollering, grumbling, reminding them
it is our needs, our bloodlust
these battered and battering
contenders serve.

Katie Chicquette Adams is an educator and writer in Appleton, WI.  She is a live storyteller with Storycatchers, Inc.; she has appeared or is forthcoming in River + Bay, Mothers Always Write, Heavy Feather Review, the regional radio segment “Soul of the Cities,” and on the regional blog, Storycatchers. She works as an English teacher for at-risk young adults at a public alternative high school, with hopes they will remake their own stories. She can be reached at k.chicquette.adams[at]