Why does soccer like it so much?


"To think that football is only 22 mercenaries kicking a ball is like saying that a violin is just wood and cat's gut, and that Hamlet is just paper and ink. Football is confrontation and art, "said John Priestley, an English novelist and playwright, once.

Above all, it is the most important tribal ritual of our times, adds Desmond Morris, zoologist and ethologist who dedicated a book to the theme a quarter of a century ago, updating it today (La trib├╣ del calcio, Rizzoli). And it is precisely its tribal essence that explains together the intensity of the passions aroused and the enormous economic dimensions.

NATI HUNTERS. All sports, according to anthropologists, have a tribal origin, but calcium, Morris specifies, reproduces better than others some fundamental rituals for our species.

The initial idea is that to make us different from other animals, in particular apes, was the aptitude for hunting, which made our physical and mental characteristics evolve, making us agile, resistant, strong, precise and astute, and which forced us to collaborate with our comrades.

When it was no longer necessary for survival, thanks to cultivation and breeding, hunting continued for recreational purposes, says Morris. And, with the birth of urban centers, it landed in the arenas, like the Colosseum, where only on the opening day, in the year 80 AD, at least 5, 000 animals died.

Blood and arena. The success of these forms of entertainment continued for at least 500 years and generated others, including the bullfight, and had its most important stop in the 1820s, when an attitude of greater humanity towards animals began to spread. .

Together with the Industrial Revolution, which concentrated large masses in the cities eager for entertainment and venting, this opened the door to the success of ball games, already practiced in the classical era, but remained until then secondary.

So how does calcium represent a pseudocaccia? "Although on the surface the players seem to make war, in reality they are not trying to destroy each other, but simply to outdo each other; in order to perpetrate a symbolic killing by pulling on the goal, "explains Morris.

Image The Roma fans welcomed captain Francesco Totti. |

Pseudocaccia. In practice, the player is the hunter, the ball is the weapon and the door is the prey. But since the door is still, it takes something to make the hunt more challenging: "The solution is to put another team that makes shooting and" killing "operations as difficult as possible to defend the prey", Morris concludes.

The extreme popularity of football compared to other sports would therefore be due to the fact that it reproduces a greater number of stages and elements of the hunt, such as taking aim, physical danger, the impetus of pursuit, cooperation.