Death and suffering are the lot of all living creatures, but we’ve come to disdain them as spectator sports. It has been nearly a century since most civilized countries executed condemned prisoners in public. In the United States, even cockfighting is now considered barbaric, not to mention illegal.
Yet tens of millions of Americans will spend at least part of this Thanksgiving weekend transfixed by the spectacle of grown men bashing one another’s brains out. We call it professional football, but it’s getting harder and harder to pretend that those of us watching are much more civilized than the ancient Romans who thrilled to the spectacle of Christians being dismembered by wild beasts.