The Sports Cycle and Western Society

superbowl

In May 2015, U.S. federal prosecutors filed criminal indictments against fourteen FIFA employees and associates in connection with an investigation by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) into wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering which was all centered around bribery. Then 16 more officials were indicted in December 2015. We also see that Super Bowl viewership peaked in 2015 at 115 million and has begun to decline from a major 26-year high. Last year, Super Bowl viewership fell to 111 million, which is actually the Bearish Reversal. So if 2017 comes in under 111 million, this will confirm sports have begun a bear market. This is yet another parallel with the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.

Circus Maximus

Charioteer

Gaius Appuleius Diocles was the highest paid athlete in Roman history. His earnings were legendary and were derived from earnings, not sponsorships. His career as a charioteer lasted 24 years. He is believed to have been born in 104 AD, began racing at the age of 18, and retired at about 42 (around 146 AD). Diocles may have retired during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138 – 161 AD). The Roman Empire peaked with Antoninus’ successor, Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD), which was 34 years from Diocles retirement. Sports began to decline.

Commodus-Hercules

Indeed, Marcus Aurelius was succeeded by his son Commodus (sole rule: 180-192 AD). Commodus made appearances in gladiatorial combats. Commodus would appear naked in these gladiatorial combats, which resulted in a collapse in confidence and a huge public scandal. This resulted in rumors that he was actually the son of a gladiator whom his mother, Faustina, probably took as some lover at the coastal resort of Caieta. Commodus always won since his opponents always submitted to the emperor and were spared. He charged Rome 1 million sesterces for his contests, no doubt trying to top Diocles’ earnings. Sports in Rome began to decline from 180 AD onward, as did the population of Rome itself. People began to migrate out of the city when Commodus began to rule by himself. If we add 34 years to 2015, that brings us to 17.2 years from 2032. Very interesting indeed.

Diocles won 1,462 races out of 4,257 and placed second in 1,438 races. Diocles is one of the best-documented ancient athletes in history. He was the start of the Roman Circus Maximus, and you can still see the track to this day.

The 1910-1915 translation of Latin pānis et circēnsēs is the source of remark by the Roman satirist Juvenal on the limited desires of the Roman populace:

“Two things only the people anxiously desire  bread and circuses.”

Marcus Aurelus Caesar AE Sestertius-r

During his 24-year career, Dicoles is said to have earned 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money according to Professor Peter Struck. Records from Pompeii show a slave being sold at auction for 6,252 sestertii in 79 AD. A writing tablet from Londinium (Roman London), dated to c. 75–125 AD, records the sale of a Gallic slave girl called Fortunata for 600 denarii, or 2,400 Sestertii, who must have been quite beautiful.

We can take a Private First Class in the US army today and see he earns $24,984.00 annually. However, food and lodging are included. During the 1st century AD, the ordinary legionary soldier was paid 900 sestertii per annum, rising to 1200 under Domitian (81-96 AD). This was the equivalent of 3.3 sestertii per day, of which half of this was deducted for living costs. That means the net salary for a soldier was about 1.65 sestertii per day. Therefore, his net pay for take home would have been 429 sestertii annually. That means, Dicoles earned for his 24 career what would have taken a solider 83,597 years.

If we then compare that to the net take-home pay of a US soldier, Dicoles earned $2,088,587,855 for his 24-year career or $87,024,493 per year. The top athlete in 2016, Cristiano Ronaldo, won a contract for $88 million. Of course, he would never earn that for 24 years.

Chaioteer Token

Gaius Appuleius Diocles was born in approximately 104 AD in Lamecum, the capital city of Lusitania, the province of Emerita Augusta in modern-day Portugal. His father owned a transport business so the family was upper middle-class. Diocles began racing at the age of 18 in Ilerda, which is Catalonia today. His skills were great and he was recruited to race in Rome. There he began racing for the White team. Being a skilled charioteer, Diocles was recruited then by the Green team at age 24. However, he then transferred to the Red Team at age 27, which was the second best team, and he quickly advanced their prestige. It was Diocles who perfected chariot racing with the strategy of holding back his horses to conserve their energy and then making the strategic play of coming from behind to cross the finish line at the last moment. When he raced, Diocles was the featured event that drew in the crowds. Pictured here is a token costing 5, which was needed to enter the races, which was equal to a little more than one sestertius since 4 copper asses equaled one sestertius.

So it would appear that the Sports Cycle is indeed a leading indicator of the decline and fall of an empire. The year 2015 saw FIFA peak, the Super Bowl peak, and even Tiger Woods peaked in golf. Yogi Berra died in 2015 followed by Muhammad Ali, and Arnold Palmer died in 2016. The year 2015 was the peak on our Economic Confidence Model for government. Will it too completely collapse in 34 years? This will be very interesting to say the least.