Shakespeare on Steroids | Fool’s Gold

By February 6, 2015 No Comments


Here in the States, we just enjoyed the spectacle of the Super Bowl, which involved two teams playing (American) football. Compared to other Super Bowl games, this one was rather exciting—it included an eleventh-hour fistfight and a spectacular upset.

In that spirit, I bring you a few articles from around the world linking Shakespeare and sports.

In this article from the Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Fitz compares Shakespeare with sports writing on Twitter, in a surprisingly complimentary comparison:

“…it is little like that line from Robert Graves – “The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good, in spite of all the people who say he is very good.” To my amazement, the same is true of Twitter, and particularly when it comes to sport.

The most obvious thing, of course, is that if you can accept that sport is also “Shakespeare on steroids,” then Twitter allows us to get to know the characters on the stage far better than their measured words in formal interviews and media conferences ever could.”

I’m not sure that I do accept that sport is “Shakespeare on steroids,” but I’m probably not the intended audience of the article. That’s a fantastic quote about Shakespeare, of course. He is really very good.


Then there’s this strange tidbit about the link between the Washington Redskins football team’s George Starke and Shakespeare:


Image from

Back in 1992, a loyal Redskins fan convinced Starke to support the local “Shakespeare on the Green” series. The image you see above was a t-shirt commemorating the occasion. In any case, it’s nice to see professional sports players supporting Shakespeare productions. We could use more of that.


In other strange Shakespeare/football news, there was a football player named William Shakespeare who played for Notre Dame in the 1930s.

Apparently, he had several nicknames, but my personal favorite is “The Merchant of Menace.”

William Shakespeare, American football player

William Shakespeare, American football player


Seriously, best nickname ever.


And for the last of our Shakespeare-related sports news, I bring you an article full of references to the Bard himself. Kevin McGran writes for the Toronto Star, and he asks: “Tragedy or comedy: What would Shakespeare make of the Maple Leafs?”

Quotes from the article include:

“Under Harold Ballard, it was kind of like King Lear and a descent into madness. These days, it’s more like The Tempest. In between, we’ve had a good run of Comedy of Errors.”

“John Ferguson Jr oversaw the Muskoka Five. Or as Shakespeare might have called not trading those players when they had a chance: Much Ado About Nothing.”

I don’t have a clue about hockey players, but the continual Shakespeare references in this article are a hoot. Macbeth! Hamlet! Lear, even! Nice work, Mr. McGran.


To cap it off, let’s all take a moment for this article by John Dugdale that argues for how much Will Shakespeare probably hated sports. Dugdale quotes Julius Caesar:

“I am not gamesome. I do lack some part of that quick spirit that is in Antony. Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires. I’ll leave you.”

And with that, I’ll leave you.


PS: Even if sports aren’t your thing, this classic Reduced Shakespeare Company sketch features Shakespeare’s kings in a football game. Hilarious, and under three minutes if you’re in a hurry. Enjoy!

Sara Keeth

Author Sara Keeth

Sara Keeth is a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her current project is on maternal representation in Shakespeare's English history plays. She takes Shakespeare jokes very, very seriously.

More posts by Sara Keeth

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