Prizes have always been a part of contests, a tradition that can be traced back for centuries. In Homer's the Iliad, Achilles hosts a contest in honor of the fallen Patroclus, "The first prize he offered was for the Chariot races -- a woman skilled in all the useful arts, and a three legged cauldron that had ears for handles, and would hold twenty two measures. This was for the man who came first," (Iliad).
Modern day athletes continue to receive prizes for their successes. They receive monetary compensation through endorsements and contracts for their participation in professional programs. The compensation is much more than a useful woman and a cauldron in recent times. The 2006 Top National Football League salaries reached insane heights. According to USAToday.com, Richard Seymour from the NFL Patriots earned a whopping $24,691,160. Another New England Patriot who is a household name thanks to his quarter back position and all his endorsement deals over the years earned $16,004,840 in 2006.
One would think to believe that modern day prizes have become much more formalized and structured. Athletic programs such as the NBA have structured pay-scale caps for their players and coaches. He NFL also adheres to a strict pay structure. However, "In the Hellenistic period and the Roman periods, pensions for Athletes became more formalized and could actually bought or sold," ("The Real Story of the Olympic Games"). So it seems that even if the currency of the payment has changed, the style and format of compensation has remained very...
The must keep their spot at the top, which sometimes proves too much for professional athletes. In William Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, Shakespeare's take on Homer's Iliad, the character of Ulysses reminds Achilles of this age-old pressure, "Keep, then, the path, / for emulation hath a thousand sons / That one by one pursue," (Troilus and Cressida 35). The fact that thousands of hopefuls would take a professional athletes spot in less than a second has not changed since the time of Homer and Shakespeare. Also adding to pressure placed among athletes is society's condemnation of egotistical behavior, "The worthiness of praise distains his worth, / if that the praised himself bring the praise forth," (30).
Homer. The Iliad. Book xxiii. Found at: http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.23.xxiii.html. On Friday September 21, 2007.
Murphy, Arthur. The Works of Cornelius Tacticus with Essay on His Life and Genius.
Oxford University Press. 1935.
Shakespeare, William. Troilus and Cressida. Penguin Books. New York. 2000.
The Real Story of the Olympic Games." Found at http://www.museum.upenn.edu/new/olympics/olympicsintro.shtml. On Friday September 21, 2007.
USAToday.com. USA Today Salaries Database. Found at http://asp.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/salaries/top25.aspx?year=2006on Friday September 21, 2007.
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