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

Freie Universität Berlin

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 ludic 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.

Student Profile
Students from all faculties interested in the subject.

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.

Location Berlin, Germany
5 Jan 2019 - 25 Jan 2019
level Bachelor / Undergraduate
Credits 4.0 ECTS
Program fee 1,350 EUR
Accommodation fee 345 EUR
Extra information about the fee:
Housing options range from € 345 to € 650. See our website for all option.
Application deadline 8 December 2018
Entry requirements:
Students from all faculties interested in the subject.
Contact information:
Freie Universität Berlin
International Summer and Winter University FUBiS
represented by ERG Universitätsservice GmbH
Malteserstr. 74-100
12249 Berlin, Germany