Ecce Mortis: The City Museum Complex: The Hall of Sports

The Hall of Sports presented colorful, uniformed wax figures in traditional protective masks painted with fiery stripes and cryptic glyphs.  The Guide, dressed like a sports Hero himself, led our tour group — mostly fathers and young sons — through The Hall of Sports, easily the most popular attraction in The City Museum Complex—among male Citizens, at any rate.

The Guide said, “Gentlemen, welcome to The Hall of Sports, where the weapons of your heroes hang from every wall.  Do you remember that first afternoon in the stadium? Blazing sun clean blue sky? Dazzling crew-cut grass?  The athletes themselves, hulking men, larger than life in the colors of their Times? Bone smashed bone and youth stretched far.  The feats of Heroes, crush of combat, clash of shields and clubs…

“Citizen fathers, let relics of The Nation’s demigods of sport take you back to that first step from the coliseum corridors and into the thrill of fresh air, crowds, verdant fields demarcated with precise grid lines of powder fine white as  confectioner‘s sugar…”

Uniformed wax heroes. Grainy footage decades old. Visitors marveled at weapons used in actual play by Heroes of all Time:  sticks, balls, leather, plastic armor—once smashed one upon the other during great games of The Nation’s history. Fathers and sons gazed upon life-size replicas of ancient heroes they’d read about and seen in black-and-white footage centuries old — centuries since the shadows captured were stalwart Heroes in the thick of Life’s doing; wood and leather weapons of The Nation’s early sportsmen; sleek plastic gear of modern champions; artifacts of long-dead players;  plaques, tapes, photographs and films commemorating spectacular moments captured long before anyone’s grandfather was born.

The Guide said, “These actual relics of past times had once soaked sweat from the flesh of great men.  The films and photographs reveal them in actual play, when they were virgin-new, their owners young men not yet legends;  not shadows on celluloid, but vigorous athletes moving gracefully through the sounds, scents and colors of their Time.”

Time connections.  Facts of artifacts.  Physical relations.  Moments of ghosts. Smell of horse-hide, leather.  Who decided which actions among innumerable moments merited preservation — and by what criteria? Transcendent deeds plucked from centuries of play to be immortalized in The Hall of Sports. Yet not every artifact was preserved, only those connecting events of significance to the official sports history of The Nation.

The Guide said, “Behold the fragments of lives you’ve merely read about or seen in gray newsreels and flat colors of TV. We take our sons to The Hall of Sports that they might witness the tools and weapons of our Heroes’ Heroes, and gaze reverently upon icons and photographs of players long departed from flesh but vibrant in the memory of The Nation, that our sons may celebrate these sportsmen and their deeds.”

Rows of equipment hung from all available space: pikes, shields, knives, truncheons; gloves, sticks, helmets, sharpened cleats.

The Guide said, “Remember your first live game, when led by the hand of your father, you stepped from some dark corridor of the arena and out into the cupped, ascending open among kaleidoscopic thousands, and down on the field the players in their uniforms clashed three-dimensionally before the stomping, roaring hordes.

“Took your breath away.  So much more ALIVE than tiny images on screens. But alas, even The Hall of Sports is powerless over Time. We can offer only fragments, bits and pieces of The God-man’s puzzle, to stimulate memory and imagination.  The relics, photographs, films and pulse of words are all we have to preserve the great sports moments of The Nation.”

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