According to prominent sports historians, the modern-day practice of allowing a losing team or athlete to live has significantly lessened the intensity of sports as a whole in the centuries since the execution of defeated competitors has fallen out of vogue.
"A shared awareness that the loser would be put to death raised the stakes and increased crowd involvement, to say nothing of its effect on the entertainment value of the match itself," said Joachim Albrechtssen, professor of competitive outcome studies at Louisiana State University. "Sports today just can't compete with that. If a Roman Colosseum audience saw Kobe Bryant miss a last-second shot, they would be unable to comprehend why he would not be stabbed to death, drawn and quartered, or burned alive, not to mention torn to shreds by the winning teams' womenfolk."
Through careful study of the behavior of sporting audiences from 3500 B.C. to the present, sports archaeologists have noted a distinct drop-off in crowd enthusiasm around the time of the last jousting matches, a lull that has been interrupted only by brief localized spikes during the heydays of public duels, bareknuckle boxing, bullfighting, and air shows.
Such studies suggest that reintroducing the mandatory execution of losing athletes could add a new level of fervor to tie games, and could especially increase crowd interest during lopsided victories, which currently see crowds leaving early and television audiences changing the channel because they no longer have the opportunity to witness the mass slaughter of the losing side.
"Even today's championship games have very little at stake," Albrechtssen said. "Imagine the increased excitement and level of play we would have seen in Game 6 of the last World Series if the Phillies went in knowing that they faced televised beheadings in the event of a loss, or if Tom Brady had been sacrificed to Apollo after the Patriots' Super Bowl upset at the hands of the Giants. As it was, those games were extremely boring."
Like many sports historians from the 19th century to the present, Albrechtssen and his colleagues argue that drastic changes should be made to the dominant competition structures. In order to restore sports to the level of pageantry and importance it enjoyed in previous eras, they advocate the immediate death of team captains after a regular-season loss in any sport; the public execution of any individual athlete who loses a championship game or race; the implementation of wheel spikes and fender-mounted blades in NASCAR; and the immediate guillotining of every member of the PGA Tour except for Tiger Woods.