Friday, April 20, 2007

The Art of Football & Why We Keep Watching

Football's often compared to a symphony or a fine painting.

It's complex and hard to grasp at times, like a piece from Bach, a sketch by Rembrandt or a novel by James Joyce.
But it's accessible and easy to see it's beauty. Anyone can watch a Shakespeare play and see it's beauty, even if we don't understand every word or sentence uttered.
Football's enduring beauty is its universal appeal. Most anyone can pick up a ball, begin to play & hear notes, words and sentences beginning to be uttered.

The subtlety of the game is what gives the sport its deceptive artistic quality. It sneaks up on you, comes out of nowhere to wow you, to dazzle you, to give you goosebumps. It can take the form of a 0-0 tie, where all there is to appreciate is a defensive stop, a flick of the wrist to deny the ball entry to the net.

Or it can be the genius of Zidane or the majesty of a goal like Lionel Messi's the other night, that reminds us of why we love this game, why we still watch day in and day out.

Marcela Mora y Araujo, writing in the Guardian, had this great quote in her article today about art and football: 'football is an art form in and of itself. It has all the ingredients of the narrative of any good novel, play or film. It provides the same mesmerising sense of wonder of ballet, dance, or music. It has the rhythm of poetry. When other art forms attempt to do something about football, it tends not to work, because football is the thing itself. Tolstoy said "that the activity of art is based on the fact that a man, receiving through his sense of hearing or sight another man's expression of feeling, is capable of experiencing the emotion which moved the man who expressed it".

By far the most spirit lifting, life-enhancing artistic expression I've seen in a long time arrived this week courtesy of a 19-year-old currently playing for Barcelona. Leo Messi's goal, ladies and gentleman: art at its finest.'

That's why I keep going back.


Anonymous said...

I understand Marcela's experience of football itself is stronger than other forms of expression, as we are all moved by different senses, and have different reference points which influence our experiences. However, I don't agree that "When other art forms attempt to do something about football, it tends not to work"...the closest I've come to truly understanding the world's love and passion for this game have come from other art forms such as songs, film, stories, drawings and other visuals which stop the game in a moment, and not from the game itself. I appreciate the passion so many have for the game, as well as the comparison of it's skill and beauty to the arts. But one does not negate the other, as Marcela implies. The comparison you (Cesar) makes, gives those who are touched by other art forms a better understanding of the surge of passion that passes through someone while watching a game. But it's your writing that makes me understand and FEEL this, moreso than Messi's goal itself.

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