The Colosseum, Rome

Franklin Field

Franklin Field, The University of Pennsylvania

Anyone can see it.  The similarity is as hard to miss as the buildings themselves.  With a simple pattern of repeated arches, the Roman Colosseum seems to have a clear influence on the design of Franklin Field.  These two siblings, despite being more than eighteen centuries and four thousand miles apart, have more in common than what first meets the eye.  What happens when we look past the facades of these buildings?


BF vase with athletic competition

Competition is ingrained in our nature, and athletics have been a means of engaging in competition throughout human history.  Both Franklin Field and the Colosseum have housed spectacular athletic competitions throughout their past, which remind us of the primitive instincts that are the roots of sport.  Fight and flight, the two most basic animal impulses, are the influence for both classical and modern sport, but the way in which various societies morph these impulses into competition varies from Greece, to Rome, to the University of Pennsylvania.  However, every society does not have a completely new take on sports, and the University of Pennsylvania based much of their physical culture and competitive sport on the Classical blueprint.  By examining the similarities between Classical athletics and the University of Pennsylvania’s unique athletic history, perhaps we can uncover why the University’s principal athletic field has an iconic sibling in Rome.