Lessons Learned from the Colosseum

By Travis H. Brown
The rise and fall of civilizations is a government policy topic that should never grow old.  Buried deep within these quests for immortality are many civic lessons that do repeat themselves.  Recently I had the chance to see Rome’s Colosseo, it was an impressive reminder that our hunger games for gladiators have not changed that much in 2,000 years.

The Colosseum survival, despite the dark ages, earthquakes, and the many pilferings of its bones commands respect for its architects and engineers.  Working in and around professional sports franchises in football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, it is amazing to me that some aspects of modern stadium design still do not rival the elegant utility of Nero’s “golden house.”

As a proud Tiger Scholarship Fund supporter of Mizzou Arena, I cannot match the ease of exits with the  “voms” used in ancient Rome.  As a Kansas City Chiefs Football Club lobbyist during the public’s restoration campaign, the plans were never able to include a sliding roof option like that of the Colosseo (even though one has been offered since the 1960’s).  Even though we may think of Scottrade’s change to an ice hockey floor dramatic, it may pale in comparison to the water sets used in the basement floors of the Colloseum.

The elusive nature of satisfying sports fans as consumer tastes change makes it even more difficult in the modern times of ESPN, smart phones, and fantasy leagues.  In the days of Emperor Vespasian, he had public funds available to build what the people were deemed to deserve on his own terms.

Now, we have teams of lawyers, public officials, and a frenzied media list to answer before such projects begin.  Some teams, like our beloved Green Bay Packers, have much community ownership due to their public stock that fans hold dear.  Others must face their State Legislatures during good times and bad to negotiate a compromise like the Minnesota Vikings this year.

In the times of Caesar, it would have been though impossible to move their sports games outside the center city walls of Roma.  Today, in Saint Louis, Missouri, it is conceivable that the Saint Louis Rams Football Club could move within or beyond the metropolitan region if contract terms are not solved by 2014-2015.  That is why our Saint Louis Convention & Visitors Bureau has their hands full trying to negotiate a balanced deal for our dome that was once graced by the Pope.

While there will remain many reasons to be critical of public subsidies with these ventures, it seems that, despite augmented reality and video gaming, our human experience will still want to feel the noise of an actual arena.  That’s especially good news for our modern day sports Caesar, Jerry Jones.

If Caesar could have been cryogenically frozen and thawed, there’s little doubt that he would demand to see “where we play out our games.”  Perhaps Dallas has laid out an independence day megaplex that someone will want to walk in two thousand years from now as well.  Fantastico!

Warning: Taking Up General Aviation can hurt Your Golf Game

By Travis H. Brown
I knew it was a likely trade when I started flight lessons nearly a decade ago. As my total time in flight increased, the free time available for my golf swing shortened. I will be the first to acknowledge that entry into my mid-life isn’t making natural athleticism any easier.

In my entrepreneurship columns, I often quote how experts have proven that you need an average of 10,000 committed hours of practice to master any skill or profession. As a professional lobbyist, I am invited to scramble more than a breakfast chef. However, I find that such times are not very productive to real advances in the little steps necessary to improve your handicap.

Sometimes on the golf course with clients or corporate colleagues a plane buzzes by and I spur up a conversation about flying. For anyone suffering on my team, my contributions to eagles and birdies are usually limited. However, if that same crew has a chance to join me elsewhere by flight, I find that they are usually more appreciative of how I have spent my past years of training and weekly flights.

During most weeks, any leisure time is very limited such that I rarely swing a club without a client or employee present. That makes the excuses a bit easier. However, due to more general aviation travel shortening the distance between my shanks and stellar courses, golf still taunts me. Just about the time that I want to banish myself from another green, I will redeem myself amidst a glorified setting.

For me, effective golf seems to share some similar philosophies as safe flying in private aviation.

First, a clear mind with a relaxed body allows for better form.  A relaxed swing is just like a smooth yet sturdy hand on the yoke, even among low ceilings or heavy rains.

Second, intense focus on the task should alienate you among your non-critical surroundings. A great tee-off amongst a group works best if you tune out your environment. The same is true in a cockpit that can easily get distracted by choppy radios, nervous passengers, or bad weather.

Third, golf’s about the journey, not the destination. Playing eighteen holes amongst friends where it’s not too fast, nor too slow is a blessing on a fair weather day. The same is true about a nice day of flying – an aviator with his heart still in the air is ready to go again – anytime, anywhere.

So, the next time you hear a plane cruise over your summer course, thank a private pilot for making someone else’s golf experience more enjoyable.