Glory to the Gladiator

By September 7, 2015 Photography, Travel Journal

Somehow the swirling buzz of revelers seemed to be absorbed into the grand structure. Though many tens of thousands would make their way inside, miraculously, not single crowd or line formed at any of the dozens of entry points. I was no exception and I passed under the classical rotunda of the stadium’s main entrance without hindrance. The coffers of the heavy concrete half-dome were ornately decorated and seemed to defy gravity as the weighty structure floated over my head. Weathered and discolored the age of the concrete building was clearly visible and made it appear like a relic of a bygone era.

A tangle of ancient passages and ramps squeezed attendants along an indecipherable route past the steaming knotted pipes that form the bowels of The Shoe. Immediately the intensity of the encroaching event became much more realized as the screeches and wails and the now fever pitched murmur from the crowd pinballed off the cold surrounding concrete with disorienting reverberations. Fortified by the echoes and close quarters occasional battle cries were expelled with practical malice. The response from the multitude comprised some laughter but also an air of blood lust. All was abruptly halted, however, by the introduction of a deafening cacophony of drum fire. The Marching band had entered the stadium belly and the drum corps had unleashed a war cadence as it marched on to the field.

The top of the ramps were met with panting plebeians, exasperated in part from the labor of the climb, in-part from the battle shrieks and in part from the percolating anticipation. A series of evenly spaced vomitories spewed the bodies into the heart of the amphitheater with ease. At first what appeared to be a breathing wave of scarlet movement through the passage ahead of me soon revealed itself as my equal on the opposite side of the vast structure. The restriction of the close opening was peeled back like a curtain giving me a breath-shortening view of the cavernous space. I was surrounded in all directions by nationalistic roars of 110,000 cheering red-clad attendees of all walks of life. Above me enclosed luxury boxes housed the no less enthusiastic wealthy, their faces just visible through the reflections of the glass in front of them. They were private citizens, CEOs, presidents, Senators and Governors. The band, now playing military marches in full strength had arranged itself in a rigid, angular formation that vaguely spelled “OHIO” and stretched half of the length of the field. Four enormous flags bearing the same letters, large enough to be read throughout the stadium and each requiring the power of two individual, were raised. With a final cry of encouragement this color guard charged from their stationary position at the corner of the field and sprinted through the heart of the band’s ranks. Explosions from fireworks pierced the air as a legion of fully armored Goliaths flooded the field behind the colors.

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