Football and Philosophy

Gooooal!!! Heavenly bliss, or hellish pain, depending on which team has scored: ours, or theirs. How can the trajectory of a ball cause so much pain or bliss? For weeks I have sat at my television watching the World Cup. My wife threatens me with divorce and other disciplinary measures. What is the source of this attraction, this magic?

The world of play is our permanent Garden of Eden. At any moment we may step from our real world into the freedom, innocence, and bliss of play. Football and the Garden of Eden? What do they have to do with each other?

Each delineates a sacred sphere of freedom and order, innocence, spirituality and justice from our everyday world of chaos, bondage, injustice and guilt. The chessboard, the tennis court, the soccer field: within their boundaries we feel free because here it is we who make the rules and are not subjected to the iron laws of the outside world. We feel innocent too, because the world of play is also a world of innocence: a Garden of Eden before the Fall. Here we can be childishly selfish, we can gratify our thirst for success, power and domination - all without guilt.

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