Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
Box 1837 / 60 George Street
Providence, RI 02912
Telephone: (401) 863-3188
Fax: (401) 863-9423
No, not that kind... this one:
In a 1981 interview with a British television station, English manager Bill Shankly told viewers “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death: I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.”
Eleven players on a field kicking a spherical ball with their feet; what could be simpler? Yet with the possible exception of organized religion, no activity has a larger geographical scope; football is played on every continent, in every country. Theorists such as David Goldblatt estimate that approximately three billion people watched the 2006 World Cup Final – almost half the planet’s population (compared to the 93 million who tuned in to last year’s Super Bowl). How can an activity so simple command the attention of half the globe?
Football cannot be treated as a game – it must be treated as a complex world phenomenon. And, as we shall see, this seemingly simple interaction between a spherical ball and a person’s foot has wrapped up in it issues of perception, personal identity, and cultural power.