A Philosopher’s Guide to Football


In a piece originally published on Some Goals Are Bigger Than Others, Thomas Pitts takes a swipe at one of football writing’s most misused and abused clichés…

If there is one thing that annoys me most about football, beyond even the rampant capitalist simulacra, the utterly offensive salaries, the corrupt governing bodies and the vast legions of, well frankly, fucking idiots who ruin it; it is when somebody, anybody, talks about a ‘footballing philosophy’.

A philosophy you say? Really? Please educate me on Barcelona’s take on the Phenomenology of Spirit? Or how Brendan Rodgers’ ‘pass-and-move’ (what bloody else happens in football, do tell?) ‘philosophy’ for Liverpool is deeply connected to Heidegger’s concept of dasein?

Of course, I am being ridiculous. But this is only to draw attention to a more serious point: there is indeed a connection, mostly untapped, between the esoteric realms of philosophy and the ‘world’ (eurgh) of football.Well, perhaps it is more an anthropology, but I shan’t bore you on the infinitesimal boundaries between ivory tower social sciences.

As Umberto Eco has said, “Football is one of the most popular religious superstition nowadays. It is the true opium of the people today.” And indeed, as something that acts as a social opiate, it must therefore be the goal (sigh) of some form of detailed critique. Continue reading