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More than just a Game - Football as a Philosophical, Anthropological, and Sociological Subject


InstructorDr. Sven Rücker
Credit Points4 ECTS
Number of Places18


Student Profile

Students from all faculties interested in the subject.

Course Description

There are many reasons for the global success of football. The game fulfils our longing for triumph and endorses our knowledge of failure. It produces heroes and losers, demonstrates that we have to fight to reach our aims, but also shows the importance of cooperating and interacting. Thus football acts as a theatre of existence, in which life can both mirror and transcend itself.

The class will take a look behind the scenes and identify the mechanisms that make football so popular. They lie partly in the game’s structure itself, partly in its connection to other cultural fields, like religion, or war.

Because football is a game that is always “more than just a game”, it is an appropriate subject for philosophy and cultural studies. At first sight, of course, this relation seems to be counterintuitive. Traditionally, particularly philosophy was defined as a purely mental activity while football in reverse was reduced to a physical combat game. But we will see that one of the characteristics of modern philosophy is to involve the body in the process of thinking, while football urges a specific intelligence from its players. Thus, the class will explore the cultural and philosophical references of football and vice versa, the lucid and bodily aspects of philosophy. By this, we will gain a new perspective on football as well as on philosophy. In addition to that, the focusing on the specific subject “football” can show the different approaches as well as the overlaps between the individual sciences.



Course Requirements

Active participation and two short essays (approx. 3-5 pages).


  • Active participation 30%
  • First essay 35%
  • Second essay 35%


A reader will be provided at the beginning of the class.