could to-the-death gladiatorial combat be done in the modern western world?

I was watching a docu-drama last night about Roman gladiators and it got me wondering whether there’s any way western society could permit it to be revived.

-The contestants have no living relatives (so no lawsuits)
-They sign documents and waivers, making it expressly clear that they understand, accept and embrace the risks involved, including injury or death and that they grant their opponents the right to deliberately kill them in the arena (if they are able)
-All necessary steps are taken to ensure that there is no coercion.

Could it ever be acceptable? If not, should it?

Can you legally sign away your life like this? The fact that Dr. Kevorkian is in prison makes me doubt it.

It will happen some time after duelling is legalized.

I have to admit, I’d kinda like to see all-out sword fighting, but I’d be satisfied with the match ending at first cut or if either participant yields.

Well, if my plans for the return of the XFL come to fruition…

Yea, though I suppose they could hold the fights in some third world country or pacific island backwater or something where the gov’t might change the law for them, and then just sell the DVDs or stream it over the internet to western viewers (doubt networks or cable would agree to broadcast it). Don’t know if that would break the OP’s condition of it being in a western country though.

But in anycase I doubt it’s something we’ll see in the near future. We have enough simulated violence in our entertainment to sate most peoples bloodlust.

A bit bloodthirsty are you? That’s what the Roman games were all about. Satiating the bloodlust of the Romans.

Tonight! In Madison Square Garden! For a purse of $5 million! 25 Iraqi prisoners of war versus THE EAST L.A. CRIPS!

Tonight’s weapon of choice: CHAINSAWS!

To ensure a vigorous contest, all surviving members of the losing team will be crucified . . .

From Wikipedia:

We have boxing and ultimate fighting here, and occasionally it ends in death.

No; I want to make it completely clear that I don’t particularly desire for this to happen (although, as humans are essentially the same kind of animals they were back then - I’m sure there would be an eager market for it). I’m just interested in the theoretical aspects of whether it ever could be permitted in western society.

That is exactly the question; and if indeed you can’t sign your life away like this, whyever not?

In the UK at least, you cannot sign your life away like this, or even consent to being assaulted to any significant degree:

As to why not, I’ve no idea. Maybe it comes from the laws banning duelling?

It’s odd, because in some senses, consenting to surgery is consenting to assault (albeit hopefully very careful assault). Of course the hoped-for end result is rather different.

Sign them up to the “War on Terror” ™, give them a helmet or weapon mounted camera and send them to Iraq or Afghanistan. Of course, to be truely gladiators, we would have to have cameras on the end of RPGs and the like.

Oh for a video link of that Centurion whipping Capt. Kirk because the was concerned about the poor TV ratings for the “to the death match” if Kirk didn’t fight with more gusto.

Bread and Circuses