A Spartan warrior is in his home, preparing for war. He girds himself in armor, packs essentials, and mentally hardens himself for the journey and battle ahead. When the last of his preparations have been made, he turns to his wife. She presents him with his shield, and says “With this, or upon this.”
According to the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, Spartan warriors were expected to either return from battle with their shield in hand, victorious—or carried upon it, dead. If a warrior returned without his shield, it meant he must have thrown it or abandoned it while selfishly fleeing; he would be executed or banished for his cowardice.
The shield represented much more than an individual’s protection. Spartan phalanxes depended on shields to protect not only their wearer, but their neighbor in the formation. As Wikipedia says, “Thus the shield was symbolic of the individual soldier's subordination to his unit, his integral part in its success, and his solemn responsibility to his comrades in arms.”
Throughout the proud history of Michigan State athletics, the most successful teams have always shared this total commitment to team success. MSU has won multiple D-I National Championships in football, men’s basketball, and hockey; it’s the only program in the country that has. That’s a proud legacy we Spartan fans and alumni need to remember, protect, and hold sacred.
At A Beautiful Day for Football, Jim and I had a space where we could occasionally vent our spleen about Spartan pigskin. But as Jim dove deeply into film review and analysis, the blog grew. We came to realize our little home had no elbow room for anything else: no community, very little discussion, and worst of all no space under the umbrella for hoops, puck or any other Spartan athletics.
Shaw Lane Spartans represents much more than a facelift; it’s an entirely new site with an entirely different mission. SLS provides forum space for our fellow Spartans, and the identities carry over into the comment section of every post. We’re looking for more contributors (see Jim’s intro post for details), hoping to improve our current football coverage and vastly upgrade (or create from whole cloth) our coverage of other sports.
Rather than an echo chamber for the voices of two individuals, Shaw Lane Spartans represents our collective contributions to the Spartan nation. We want to uphold our solemn responsibility to our comrades-in-arms. We want to honor the legacy of the Spartan teams and fans that came before us, and help carry it forward to the next generation of Spartan fans and alums. We want to be an integral part of the success of Spartan athletics, and we want you all to join us in the phalanx.
Here’s your shield.