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Meanwhile, everything else going on at a sports game is still based on Ancient Roman techniques. The Roman games were intended to demonstrate class mobility by showing that slaves could become regular citizens. If a slave really won enough gladiatorial contests, he would be elevated to the status of citizen. What's happening in sports today is very similar, except it is an inner-city kid who gets out of the ghetto because he has talent, and has chosen to spend his energy on entertaining, rather than mugging us. Successful gladiators were permitted to commit terrible crimes, even rape, without fear of being punished ­ and without damaging their images among the fans. Same way here. No matter how many times a sports hero is arrested, we'll still forgive him. He has license to do these terrible things so that we can vicariously experience his outrage and pain ­ as well as our own safety and control.

And in the end, who's paying for it all? Look at the scoreboard. It's not the emperor, anymore; it's whatever corporation has paid for that scoreboard to be there. It's name is right on top.

In a sense nothing has changed: the same kinds of techniques that have been used for centuries by emperors, kings, popes and priests, are now being used in service of the corporation. Where it's different is that we have technologies in place that make these coercive techniques automatic. There are machines doing this now — machines are doing the research, machines are adjusting the commercials and configuring the Web sites. What I'm trying to do is to insert some human control, some human thought, and some real human intention back into what we're doing.