The Rupp Report: Panem Et Circenses
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
Last Sunday, the 2008 UEFA European Football Championship (Euro 2008) — or soccer championship —
concluded with Spain as the victorious team. For once, the right team won the cup — the Spanish
team played a wonderful game. Over the last four weeks, Europe has been under fire. Every day, on
every front page of the daily newspapers, with everybody on the street, the only issue was football
— sorry, soccer.
Old Roman Behavior
Don’t get me wrong — I’m anything but a pessimist, I love this game, and I can name every world champion since the first tournament in 1930. However, the behavior of the people — and even more of the politicians and royals — reminds me of the old Roman days. Like in the old Circus Maximus of Rome, the leaders of the countries celebrated themselves and greeted the people graciously — by the way, in the VIP seats and free of charge. The more successfully a team played during the tournament, the more politicians appeared in the seats of honor. But, was this really the only thing they had to look for?
No Other Problems?
Who cares about the problems of the world? Inflation, economic slump, wars, devaluation and hunger, just to name a few. I think that’s why the Roman emperor Gaius Julius Caesar used to say: If the people are hungry and not happy, give them some bread and entertainment: “Panem et circenses.” This is Latin, and it means “bread and circuses.” The gladiators were the heroes in the ancient Roman world.
Today, the gladiators don’t kill people, but still they are here to entertain the people. It seems they are even able to unite people. In many countries of Europe — outsiders can hardly understand this fact — people don’t feel first of all as a citizen of a country, but more from a region. This fact arises from history. Spain is a country with a lot of different tribes; Basques, Catalans, Galicians and many more. Spain was badly hurt by attacks from separatist groups over many decades. And even the very talented Spanish strikers were not able to unite with such a background in mind. This has changed with the success of the football team. Even the newspapers are mentioning the fact that Spain has a team again in the best sense of the word. Again, it’s the team spirit, just like mentioned in the Rupp Report two weeks ago. Team spirit is the point; a bunch of egocentric individualists are not able to be successful.
Aggression is not a good partner to win a game or to achieve a common goal, as Euro 2008 demonstrated perfectly. Sport is still one of the best medicines to relieve aggression. In old days, mankind hunted to let off steam. Today, men are soccer strikers. The effect is the same — happy people.
And by the way, to finish this story, let me give you two additional thoughts: First of all, the abbreviation VIP is said to mean “very important people.” But are there any unimportant people? And secondly, my date of birth is the same day as Julius Caesar. Any comments are welcome. Write firstname.lastname@example.org.