The university is run by athletics; enough close encounters with electric scooters and headlines of institutional corruption could tell you that much.
The administration is heavily dependent on football revenues to function, and despite a rocky season, football is easily keeping afloat. In the 2018-19 school year, they took in a profit of $55 million, and while that number has dropped during the pandemic, financial aid from the SEC has meant that losses are minimal.
But what if there was a way to make even more money? Well, for any higher-ups reading this (ahem, President William Tate IV), I have only one word: Colosseum.
This roughly 2,000-year-old stadium was one of the highlights of the Roman Empire, and it holds all the answers for university athletics. If the Colosseum was entertaining enough to keep Rome together for 400 years, think about how much money we could make off our own Colosseum, especially with modern broadcasting technology.
Conveniently, we have our own Colosseum right on campus—Death Valley. While we certainly don’t want to compete with the football program and hurt its bottom line, there’s a whole eight months of off-season that would be perfect for our plans.
So, how did the Romans master the art of pleasing the crowd? The short answer is gladiators.
Now, I know that some of you and your pesky "moral compasses" have objections to gladiatorial combat. First of all, this is university politics, so you should probably leave said compass at the door, and second, we wouldn’t be actually killing anyone—we want to broadcast this on TV, after all.
Our system of gladiators would be students unfortunate enough to be placed on academic probation. For amusement and financial betterment, these students would fight one another to secure their academic futures. The victor would be taken off of academic probation, while the loser would be forced to drop out. There could even be career gladiators, like those in Rome, who would fight for scholarships.
But gladiators aren’t all that made the Colosseum so much fun; chariot races were also a major part of the day's events. While getting real horses into Tiger Stadium may be difficult—although I'd love to hear from anyone with connections at the veterinary school—we could instead task the engineering students with designing motorized chariots as class projects, and testing them in Death Valley.
Naval battles were another popular event. The Colosseum would be flooded with water from aqueducts, and ramming-vessels would smash into each other under the watchful eyes of the emperor. Funnily enough, we have our own rowing team here on campus, and these experts could easily be called in to train fraternities and sororities to man these boats, thus settling their disputes in an entertaining and monetized fashion.
Who wouldn't want to see 20 sweaty fraternity brothers smash giant wooden battering rams into each other for money?
Now, not everything that happened in the Colosseum can be so easily adapted. The Romans had a bad habit of executing their criminals by tying them to posts and allowing lions to come in and eat them. Obviously, while I’m sure many of us are delighted by the thought of subjecting rival schools to this fate, there are a lot of problems with this whole idea. Namely, Mike is much too lazy to actually maim anyone—he’s practically an overgrown housecat at this point. Oh, and human decency.
It may be a challenge to get all the wheels in motion to make this dream a reality, but Rome wasn't built in a day. Remember, we're not just looking at a revival of a glorious past, or a coming together of the disparate elements of our university community, but also an insane amount of money—and that's what really matters.
If we really want to secure our university’s future profit margins, we’ve got to look back to the past.
Haden DeVilbiss is a 20-year-old history and psychology sophomore from Lake Charles.