Good Games as Athletic Beauty: Why Football is Rightly Called 'The Beautiful Game'

Ryall, Emily S ORCID: 0000-0002-6050-4353 (2016) Good Games as Athletic Beauty: Why Football is Rightly Called 'The Beautiful Game'. In: The Beautiful Game: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Soccer in Transnational Perspective, 29 June - 1 July 2016. (Unpublished)

Text (© Dr Emily Ryall 2016)
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Soccer, which I shall call football, is a game that is won or lost on whether a ball is deemed to cross a line. How the goal is scored is irrelevant since the result of a goal-mouth scramble is worth the same as a skilfully executed half-volley in to the top corner. On this basis, there is no logical reason for attaching the term “the beautiful game” to football at all, since every instance of the game could be far from beautiful. Indeed, there have been those (such as Kretchmar, 2005) that have argued that sports that are determined by events (such as golf and tennis), rather than time (such as football and rugby), are aesthetically superior because they allow for a greater number of “skilful interchanges.” Yet, there is nevertheless an argument that the skills required for football allow for a far greater demonstration of beauty than those required for other sports, even the so called “aesthetic sports” of gymnastics, figure skating, and high-board diving. This is due to the types of skills it entails and the space which is given to demonstrate them. Ultimately, the freedom afforded by football and its constitutive rules rightly allow it to be labelled “the beautiful game.” This paper will consider the notion of beauty in relation to grace, symmetry, athletic excellence, and genius before outlining its application to the game of football. It will take into account Scott Kretchmar’s (2005) notion of “skilful interchange” and argue that there is a far greater capacity for this to be demonstrated in the game of football than in other sports. Bibliography: Davis, P. “Game Strengths.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 33 (2006): 50-66. Kretchmar, R.S. “Game Flaws.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 32 (2005): 36-48. Lacerda, T. & S. Mumford. “The Genius in Art and in Sport: A Contribution to the Investigation of Aesthetics of Sport.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 27 (2010): 182-193. Ryall, E. “Good Games and Penalty Shoot-Outs.” Sport, Ethics and Philosophy 9 (2015): 205-213.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Additional Information: Keynote Lecture for ‘The Beautiful Game’: 29th June 2016, University of Basel
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV557 Sports > GV861 Ball games: Baseball, football, golf, etc.
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Education and Science
Research Priority Areas: Health, Life Sciences, Sport and Wellbeing
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2016 13:56
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 09:09

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