chapter  4
The aesthetics of football
Football, bloody hell
WithSteffen Borge
Pages 66

The football viewing experience of the average sport spectator is a question of engaging in the game as it unfolds. When we take our starting point in engagement in the unnecessary staged conflict that football matches are, an agon aesthetics emerges. Agon (competition), not areté (striving for excellence), is the primary source of the aesthetics of football. Footballing actions deemed beautiful, elegant and so on, are normally considered as such due to their functionality within the game. Aesthetic praise of footballing actions is predominantly anchored in the understanding that they are part of a competitive setting and are conducive to achieving the aim of the sport, which is to win football matches. Moving from individual football actions and interactions to the competition of the football match, which involves two teams battling for victory, we find that, from an aesthetic point of view, drama or the dramatic takes centre stage. The football spectacle of two teams not only striving to do their best to win the sport competition, but also actively trying to prevent the other team from doing the same, together with the low-scoring and chanciness of the game, offers us a dense and sometimes dark drama.