chapter  2
20 Pages

Shifting boundaries: Learning the rules of the field

WithWilliam Tantam

This chapter discusses how amateur players come to embody the rules of the football pitch. In particular, how do players move from knowing not to do something to automatically not doing it? While the laws of football might appear immutable and unchangeable, actually there is significant variation in how they are enacted and understood in different spaces. The chapter also discusses how players came to know and embody the rules of the football field. New players were never told explicitly how they were expected to act and therefore had to learn through intuition and imitation. It was only at rare moments that the rules were vocalized. Keepers would often shout for play to continue even when the ball had crossed the envisioned boundary. The rules regarding hard tackles involved configuring relationships between the Ashton players and also between their field and others. The rules were entwined with ideas of labour and employment.