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Football: The Philosophy Behind the Game




Football: The Philosophy Behind the Game

Stephen Mumford

ISBN: 978-1-509-53533-0 May 2019 Polity 140 Pages



Football is the most popular sport on the planet partly because it’s so simple to play – but as philosopher, novelist and avid fan Stephen Mumford shows, behind the straightforward rules of the game there lurks a world of intriguing complexity.

Mumford considers the intellectual basis upon which football rests, guiding readers through a number of issues at the heart of the game. How can a team be greater than the sum of its individual players? What is the essential role of chance? Should we want to win at all costs? What does it mean to control space? And can true beauty be found in football?

Rich with colourful examples from football’s past and present, Mumford’s book is both a love letter to football and a reflection on its enduring capacity to enthral and excite.

  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Beauty
  • 3. Wholes
  • 4. Space
  • 5. Chance
  • 6. Victory
  • Further Reading

‘Stephen Mumford uses his considerable philosophical expertise to explain why football is the most popular sport in the world. His analysis will add much to his readers’ enjoyment of the game.’
David Papineau, author of Knowing the Score: How Sport Teaches Us About Philosophy

‘The perfect gift for soccer fans new to philosophy or philosophers new to soccer – this book is a rich, multi-layered reflection on both.’
Alan White, Williams College

‘The game is one of the great survivors, a leviathan led by donkeys.’
The Times