I tried posting this the other day, but it seems to have vanished in the ether … the incipit of an item from Chicago Now:
Baseball has always been “America’s game.” Although football has begun challenging for the title. Because our democracy has its roots in ancient Greece, sports fans might wonder what the Greeks would have thought about this. OK, most sports fans could care a flying fig. But somehow I do.
Doggedly pursuing my wonderment, I found at least 12 football teams who use The Spartans in their name. Not a single one uses The Athenians. Stick with me here — think of this as your theme for your next tailgate party. The ancient Greek city of Sparta was the warrior state; Athens the philosophy state. Get the point? I mean, what team wants to grunt their way up to the line of scrimmage as philosophers?
When I mentioned this in my old history classes, the students wondered too. About their teacher! That’s when I would remind them, “Aha, but this is why we study history….” “What, to find out what dead Greeks think about this year’s season…!” Then came my coupe de grace’: “No, to find out how our yesterdays really do help shape our todays…” […]
… which is all fine and good, but what I’ve always wondered is why “Trojans” seems to be such a common name for sports teams — including my high schools (William Aberhart) — and certain prophylactic devices. Sure they held out for ten years, but eventually their defense failed and they were utterly wiped out; not exactly what a sports team (or prophylactic) would be promoting. Roman names like Gladiator seems to be a bit more appropriate … fierce fighters and ultimately the crowd decides who lives or dies (home field advantage?) …