New Philosopher

The seriousness of play

At the heart of play, games and sport lies a paradox concerned with triviality and seriousness. Running around a large rectangular pitch trying to kick a ball into a net is a completely pointless activity and yet every week millions of people do it, or watch others do it. It is the cause of both heartbreak and elation. The FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games is watched by billions of people worldwide. And for those involved as spectator or participant, the result matters. As football manager Bill Shankly was reported to have said: “Football is not a matter of life and death, it’s much more important than that.”

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