Ball control in the game of life: curious similarities between football and philosophy
Heidegger was a great left wing, Derrida a good centre forward, Camus played in the goal position ,just like John Paul II, and more than a few philosophers applied football to their theories: Sartre used to say that football is a metaphor for life, Wittgenstein came to a turning point in his thought while he was watching a football match, Marleau-Ponty explained phenomenology with football vocabulary. Why? Football is based on a concept: ball control. But this concept is not an end in itself. To start the match, you need to let the ball go and bring it into play. Control and release are the principles of football and life. Philosophy, in its broader sense of “game of life”, is based on these football rules: to succeed in it, you need to bring life into play. For this reason, Divino Pallone explains Plato’s “Idea” with Pelé, the paradox of non-being with Garrincha, virtue and beauty with Platini, as well as, in reverse, Maradona’s genius with Vico’s “poetic logic”, Falcao’s insight into the game with the Allegory of the Cave, Totti’s Spoon with Aristotele’s metaphysics. And that’s not all. Football is not only a metaphor: it’s a cognitive paradigm indeed. It goes as far as declaring checkmate to the most dramatic political expression of our time: totalitarism. Hitler and Stalin wanted to control everything. They succeded. They also wanted to control football. They failed. Thus, football provides us with a paradigm to avoid totalitarism.
Giancristiano Desiderio, journalist and essayist, wrote about the relation between thought and freedom. He works with the newspapers Liberal and Il Corriere del Mezzogiorno. He was a reporter from the Parliament for Libero and vicedirector for Indipendente. He founded the magazine Crocevia and the “Michele Melenzio” Library. He lives in Sant’Agata dei Goti, where he writes, reads, teaches and, of course, plays.