torek, 5. junij 2012


Roman Vodeb, Independent Scholar, Slovenia

The paradigm of the goal constitutes one of the fundamental libidinal paradigms in the psychoanalytic conceptualization of ball games. Moreover, the concept of the goal reveals that the latent structure of sports games lies on libidinal foundations. Typical libidinal categories hiding beyond sports are: the Oedipus complex, castration, the repressed, unconscious desire, pleasure etc. A historical analysis of certain ball games shows that the paradigm of the goal in the structure of sports has not been transferred from one country to another or from one continent to another. It is only the libidinal disposition found in any heterosexually-structured male mind that is the essential disposition which brought to life the universal ball-sports paradigm in different places and time periods. The goal as a paradigm stems from an unconscious desire to have coitus with a female. Secondary elaboration, a concept taken from Freud’s interpretation of dreams, generates a diversity of supporting elements that constitute the rules of the game. It is due to the very secondary elaboration that the libidinal symbolic game becomes “playable”.
(Tim Vodeb - throwing ball from out over 50 m, World record) 

The following presentation stems from a complex psychoanalytic historical interpretation of ball sports, football, ie. association football and American football, in particular, as well as handball, hockey, water polo, rugby and basketball. A comprehensive theoretical treatment was given in the book entitled “Sport through Psychoanalysis” (Vodeb 2001) and some papers published over the last decade, culminating in the “Interpretation of Sports” (Vodeb 2005).

A classic introduction into football should begin with the phrase, "Football is the most important trifling matter in the world." It should have become clear by now that this contribution transcends classic discourse in that it leans heavily on meta-psychology, if not directly on philosophy, with the theoretical epicenter focused on the goal, viz. the goal in football or basketball or the touchdown in American football and rugby.

Little is known about sports or competitive games of the ancient times. Obviously, we were not there to witness what set the ball rolling, literally, what triggered the development of football or the concept of the goal as an area where something had to be put in, that something having the function of the modern-day ball. There is no time machine that would take us back in time to investigate the origin of the concept of the goal as the primary paradigm of ball games. The unreliability of various historical records and oral accounts makes us take a different approach towards the study of (pre)history in general, not merely the history of ball games or sports. Interpretation of historical events and (folklore) rituals can be safely based on an assumption that the human mind of both the present and the past followed the same algorithms. And if there is any science that contains any kind of knowledge about the human mind, it is definitely psychology or, to be more precise, Freud's psychoanalysis.

In spite of the untenability of this meta-science, both psychiatry and clinical psychology, which endeavor to cope with the human mind or mental pathos, go on employing the very starting points as established by Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, over a hundred years ago. He always claimed, in his Totem and Taboo (Freud 1979) in particular, that the mind of prehistoric people was exactly the same as is today, although the level of psychosis of primitive men was considerably higher. But even then, human beings were determined by their libidinal structure, which means that even then they were directed by the (unconscious) desire to experience satisfaction or pleasure. Needless to say that such pleasure was sexual. As soon as primitive man made his life secure, he (unconsciously) began to think how to make it pleasurable, too. Coital orgasm as the culmination of pleasure was the ("Id’s") imperative that secured the phylogenetic way of the human kind.

You may be wondering what on earth this has got to do with the goal as the primary paradigm in sports games? It is common knowledge that a goal is not only a goal, yet the theoretical apparatus supporting the idea of the latent sports structure is so untenable that it can be (legitimately) debunked by anyone, as cognitive skepticism can be always employed. However, this does not mean that the theory of the latent sports structure is not valid, especially if we choose to dissect sport by means of psychoanalysis. There can be, naturally, various nuances to the theory that sport is a derivative of libido and that it has an unconscious latent sexual structure. As Freud developed a theory about the innate bisexual nature of humanity, any (pan)sexual theory may be legitimate enough - and there must have been quite a few such theories even in Freud's time. A first “wild” generalization might be that sport, e.g. football, either association football or American football, has a latent homosexual structure. There is no end to such theories. One of the latest was developed by Californian folklorist Alan Dundes at Berkeley University, who interprets American football as a latent homosexual ritual (Dundes 1979, 1997). And Dundes was no pioneer in the field of psychoanalytic interpretation of (American) football and rugby or sports in general. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, George T. W. Patrick (Patrick 1903) tried to provide a psychological explanation of the fascinating character of sports games, of American football in particular. Patrick's attempt at interpreting sports games included the seeds of then born psychoanalysis. But it took another two decades before Abraham A. Brill, who had just been translating Freud into English, wrote The Way of Fun (Brill1929). This psychoanalytic interpretation served Thomas Hornsby Ferril as a basis for his parody essay Freud and Football, which he wrote in 1955 and published under the pseudonym of Childe Herald ten years later, when it was met with a wide response. The paper presents the Oedipus complex as an essential momentum in American football and sports in general. Nevertheless, we should bear in mind that Hornsby Ferril was more of an essayist and a journalist than a genuine psychoanalyst (Herald 1965: 250-252). Adrian Stokes chose a more serious approach by setting his focus on all ball games, especially cricket. Stokes was rather explicit in connecting the Oedipus complex to association football (Stokes 1956). We find Stokes especially relevant because he was a renowned psychoanalyst and made a clear connection between the paradigm of the goal and the female genitals, ie. the archetypal vagina (ibid: 190). In his theories, he swings between the theses that balls, especially in cricket and baseball, symbolize semen and that the ball represents the phallus, e.g. in football (ibid: 187). During that time, some "wild" and lay interpretations supported the thesis that the (round) football might symbolize the male testicles (Dundes 1979: 79). In the American gay lexicon from 1972, the idiom "to ball someone" means copulation (Rodgers 1972: 27). While probing the symbolic meaning of the ball and attempting to define the role of the mother and the father in ball games containing the paradigm of the goal, Dundes drifts into cognitive skepticism, the attitude that, eventually, any psychoanalyst is faced with (Dundes 1979: 79-80). In his folklorist theories, Dundes flirts with the idea of anal copulation, presenting American football as having a latent homosexual structure. Nevertheless, Dundes also uses heterosexual terms, e.g. when relating the touchdown to erogenous zones (ibid).

Our theoretical treatment does not support the above thesis, as the thesis of heterosexual (pan)sexualism entirely satisfies us in terms of interpretation. Psychoanalysts, however, have been puzzled by genetic research. Geneticists have recently raised their voices to deny the basic psychoanalytic thesis of the bisexual nature of human beings, thus turning many psychoanalytic theories, including that of Freud, upside down or sending them back to square one. The most remarkable opposition to Freud's and Fliss's theories on the bisexual nature of human beings can be illustrated by the life of a Canadian called David aka Bruce, who was born as a boy and whose penis was accidentally cut off during a routine circumcision. Dr. John Money - a sexologist and psychiatrist at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, who had learned his "trade" at one of the North American universities, no doubt including clinical experience which was based on Freud's psychoanalytic findings and theories (he published the last of his ten books in his late 70’s in 2003) - advised the parents to let the doctors completely remove David's penis and construct a vagina, and then raise him as a girl named Brenda (Money 1973, 1980). Brenda, however, failed to grow up into a woman, despite being treated with various hormones and psychotherapy. Instead, she became a lesbian and eventually had her gender changed again, becoming a man named David. David was happily married but committed suicide in the spring of 2004. This sad story would not have been so interesting if David, alias Bruce or Brenda, had not had a twin brother, Brian, through whom he, while still living as Brenda, finally found out that he had been born as a boy and that his female gender had been imposed on him owing to a twist of fate. In his mind, David never accepted the imposed female gender. This story should raise doubts with psychiatrists and clinical psychologists who cling to the theory of the bisexual origin of the human mind. John Money brought the idea into play (Money 1994, 1998, 2002), and his actions call psychoanalytic theorists to revise a number of Freud's theses and Freudian ideas. Nevertheless, let us bear in mind that numerous of Freud's theories will still hold water, although they cannot be proven like an axiom in physics. Even though the psychic gender may be genetically determined, this does not affect the consistency of our psychoanalytic interpretation of sports. It may be, however, expanded as follows: it is well possible that the unconscious (sexual) desire is not determined only by “upbringing”, ie. through primary identification, or the anatomy of genitals, but also by the genetic disposition for a mental desire that may be based on the coital impulse or instinct.

Notwithstanding, we may still legitimately state that a goal is not a goal, but rather a substitute for the female genitals. The goal was unconsciously invented or “desired into being” by the males as a result of their (hetero)sexual, coital dispositions or instinctive impulses. Ball games are older than recorded history. According to the preserved documents, it may be concluded that they were known to almost all ancient societies: Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, even in China and Australia. The Incas, too, were no exception. As early as 4000 years ago, the Egyptians used to play games with leather balls stuffed with straw and raveled reeds. They may have even employed inflated pig or ox bladders, as were used by the Ancient Greeks. The Chinese started to use bird feathers as late as the 3rd century. They probably played the game throwing a small ball into each other's lap or into each other's hands, or kicking it. Naturally, we do not know whether they used a goal and in what form, but we may assume the plausibility of the hypothesis. Neither can we tell whether Egyptian "handball" and "football" were played according to some rules. Psychoanalysis allows us to deduce that the rules of the game were formed in accordance with secondary elaboration, a notion known from Freud’s interpretation of dreams. Secondary elaboration (processing or reprocessing) is an unconscious cognitive mechanism that Freud introduced in his interpretation of dreams or dream analysis. It is the secondary elaboration that makes a certain game “playable”. Playable games must have been governed by a set of rules familiar to all players, which seems logical since a game with no rules would have instantly gotten into a fight among the players. The fact is that any game possesses a symbolic structure and is, basically, a serious matter. It seems illogical that the Ancient Greeks, for instance, would not have (self-)restricted their ball games with rules. Historians state that the first ball games were the boys’ domain. Their favorite was similar to today's Dodge Ball. They are assumed to have played football as well, or some kind of rugby: the players had to enter a "forbidden" area drawn on the ground, carrying, throwing or kicking the ball, while the opposite team tried to prevent this with all their might. This paradigm can be explained by means of psychoanalysis, merely by employing the concept of the Oedipus complex and some of its derivatives, e.g. the prohibition of incest. In order to understand the symbolic value of the change or transformation of the "forbidden" area into a specifically determined and restricted area, ie. the goal, it is necessary to introduce the concept of the difference in the anatomy of the genitals, which is responsible for the unconscious desire for coitus with a woman as the successor of the mother. In so doing, the latent structure of such a game appears considerably more (hetero)sexual.

Tsu Chu or cuju, an ancient Chinese game played around the 3rd century, reflected a distinct (hetero)sexual or (latent) coital paradigm. At the emperor's court, a similar latent sexual game was played, with two teams striving to get a ball through a small silk-lined hole, a “goal”. The fact that the players were forbidden to touch the ball with their hands and were only allowed to use their torsos and legs may be interpreted as an impact of "something unconscious": the prohibition of touching something, e.g. with one’s hands, always harbors some kind of symbolism. Also, psychoanalytic interpretation supports the idea that “a hole in silk” is latently or symbolically (hetero)sexual. According to Freud, silk is associated with the female, representing her. The paradigm of prohibition is based on the prohibition of incest. Clearly, we shall never be able to find out or prove if the prohibition to play with hands is a consequence of the above-mentioned secondary elaboration affecting the rules of the game to make it more playable or whether this (paradigmatic) prohibition reflected some other prohibition, e.g. that of erogenous zones or some other forbidden objects not being allowed to be touched with hands.

This paper is not aimed at discussing the fact that in Ancient China court ladies played a similar game called Eight Immortals Cross the Sea, with two teams of four players. Such a discussion would call for the introduction of the concepts of penis envy and imitation of men, which feminists find rather unpopular, to say the least.

Throughout the time, in China and elsewhere, other (“sports”) games would crop up and gain popularity. In the 7th century the game of immortals, the then form of football, was superseded by polo. As a matter of interest, this game was similar to many games developed in other cultures or countries, meaning that identical mental structures were derived from identical unconscious motives or desires. Different cultural environments have had their influences on the manifest structure of the game, whereas the latent structure remains identical everywhere and, according to psychoanalytic interpretation, it concerns sexuality. A decisive rule in this context is played by the Superego.

In so-called “primitive” cultures, where the influence of "civilization" has not reached the (moral) Superego in a sufficiently "classic" way in terms of prohibitions, the symbolic or latent structure does not hide the animalism or the “Idism” of it. For instance, a game called Buzkashi is still played in Turkmenistan today. This equestrian game of the Uzbeks, in which the riders randomly fight against each other over the carcass of a goat, is played virtually without any rules. In spite of the fact that this game is traditional and exceptionally popular among the Central-Asian steppe nations, it can be hardly classified as a sports game, although it possesses the competitiveness of the sports paradigm. As stated above, the basic paradigm of the game is similar to many games in other cultures. The Ancient Persians in what today would be Iran had a "ball" instead of a goat. Even though the Uzbeks and the Turkmen are not culturally or geographically far from Iran, it is difficult to say that the one community brought the game or custom to the other. It is true, however, that some historical records state that Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, received a polo stick or club as a gift after having conquered Persia. Just as unverifiable, through cognitive skepticism, remains the story about the founding father of the Persian Sassanid Empire, Shah Ardashir, who lived in the 3rd century and presumably played polo between two "goals", marked off by two rods at a distance of 8 meters between them. It is possible that Asian nomads, famous for their horsemanship, may have become enthusiastic about this equestrian game. From the psychoanalytic point of view, however, there is greater possibility that their paradigm feeds on identical and universal mental structures. Therefore, it is not necessarily true that it was the Asian nomads who brought polo to China thorough Mongolia and to the Byzantine Empire, where the game first appeared in the 11th century, as is legitimately concluded by historians.

Sports sociologists of today treat polo from somewhat different theoretical positions, which, however, may be supplemented with those of psychoanalysis. The moment the underprivileged started to play tennis, the elite indulging in sports “took refuge" in somewhat more expensive sports, e.g. golf and, naturally, polo. Keeping a horse or having a polo team is a hefty financial investment that makes today's polo a sport reserved for the rich, who by playing it wish to (subconsciously) rise above others or the riff-raff. To rise above others means “to win a privileged position in the desire of the object of desire”, or, in other words, “a man enjoys a privileged position in a woman's desire” if he displays an attribute of “betterness” that raises him above others. Having a horse, and, even more so, winning a polo match, is a privilege enjoyed by the elite, which, included in the package, brings the "top prize": namely, euphoria or pleasure.

Obviously, not everyone could afford a horse in the past either. The wealthiest polo players would breed superbly agile horses - "polo ponies". A game crowned with a victory and victory-related pleasure, which, according to psychoanalytic interpretation, derives from oedipal-castration events, made it easy for this strongly (hyper)invested (sports) ritual strike root in any culture. Within the paradigm of a sports or competitive game, an attempt to score a goal or actually scoring it with the ensuing pleasure is the ultimate cherry on top. To conquer an adversary on a latent unconscious (symbolic) level means to castrate a "sexual rival" and if the victory is synonymous with “scoring” a goal or an act of symbolic coitus, it is clear that the discourse of pleasure in sports has a latent libidinal, ie. sexual, etiology and a symbolic structure.

Within psychoanalytic discourse, the paradigm of the goal in (sports) games is considered a universal one, since similarly conceived games can be found all over the world. The paradigm was set up discretely, which contemporary historians are highly unlikely to agree with. The classic explanation of introducing a ritual or a sports game is based on a fixed idea that a traveler brought a game or a ritual from somewhere and that the imported game simply "struck root". We do not believe this cognitive paradigm and introduce a radically different one. Our theory, our conceptual-mental paradigm, marks an epistemological break in the entire understanding of various sports games. According to our legitimate opinion or conviction, the historians have made a mistake in deduction. Psychoanalysis offers a different interpretation, which can be legitimately believed in, although it cannot be proven, yet the same goes for theories propounded by historians. There are numerous arguments - historical arguments - that we may refer to within our cognitive framework. Namely, even when maritime voyages had not yet led to discovering unknown territories and games were not transferred from one continent to another or from one country to another, the sports and competition paradigm was identical all over the world. This should mean that there must be some sort of mental disposition for identical game paradigms to enter various cultures. This indeed is the case since the human mind follows identical algorithms in all races and cultures. The Oedipus complex and the phenomenon of castration are universal; the notion of universality further applies to the unconscious, the repression, the principle of pleasure, the symbolic structure of mentality, the Id imperative (aimed at pleasure) etc. Just as universal is the role of the Superego and the ensuing prohibition of incest.

It is now plain to see that we cannot take it for granted that contemporary football has its roots in Europe, or that football was invented by the Romans. It is very well true that the Romans may have indeed “desired into being” a game paradigmatically similar to football, viz. Harpastum. Yet the real roots lie in the mental sphere of the male mind. The male has mental dispositions for competitiveness, which is an inherent feature of (sports) games and underlying the introduction of the goal as a symbolic substitute form of the female genitals within the paradigm of (competitive) games. The radicality or uniqueness of our thesis does not deny the possibility of a birth situation that, directly or indirectly, can have generated a game similar to football which should have given rise to the development of modern football. Yet the understanding of football is substantially improved through the mental dispositions in the “inventors” or “desirers” (males) rather than by a list of names or the localization of its pioneers in a particular cultural environment or country.

The pioneers of European football were thus not the Romans but rather the heterosexual males who, owing to their unconscious desire to have coitus with a woman, constructed a game similar to modern football. It is not significant whether they lived in Ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, China, Central America or anywhere else in the world, but there is no escaping the fact that it was every single culture or country that generated the paradigm of a (rolling) ball, which at the moment of the generation of the paradigm of the goal as a symbolic substitute form of the female genitals acquired a phallic structure (phallus = a symbolic substitute form of the male genitals or penis). As long as the ball merely rolled or was thrown or exchanged between the players, its symbolic representation may as well have been different. It may have been a symbolic representation of a beheaded adversary. It is said, for instance, that sometime in the 12th century the head of a Viking plunderer was used as a ball on an occasion in England.

The game would occasionally end in casualties. This can be observed on the basis of a football-like game described by Peter James and Nick Thorpe in their Ancient Inventions: Wonders of the Past! Referring to the Codex Magliabechiano, written sometime around the 15th century, the authors mention the Olmecs, an Indian tribe from Mesoamerica in the Gulf of Mexico (James and Thorpe 1994: 560), who inventend or “desired the game into being” around the 10th century. It is believed that it was later adopted by other regional tribes, e.g. the Aztecs, the Incas, or it may just as well have been archetypically “desired into being” by other American tribes. Basically speaking, it was an aristocratic game reserved for the higher social classes. Also, exceptionally talented players from outside the ordained aristocracy are said to have won their way into the team. The weight of the Olmec ball with a diameter of about 15 centimeters made the game a rather dangerous affair. The players had to wear helmets, the forerunners of present day American football helmets. One of the theories around the well-known stone balls weighing up to 40 tons each states that the basalt spheres represent the giant helmeted heads of the Olmec rulers. At first, the playing fields or ballcourts were entrenched areas or enclosed meadows, which later developed into real stadiums flanked with walls. One of such stadiums was discovered at an ancient Olmec place called Chichen Itza in Mexico. It measured 90 meters by 30 meters with an 8 meter-high wall surrounding it.

Psychoanalytically, what is interesting about the stadium is the specific details of the game, having a classic and universal latent libidinal structure: the side walls bore hoops made of stone or wood, reminding one strangely of Naismith's basketball, which was invented about a thousand years later and several thousand kilometers up North, in the Canadian town of Springfield. To further elucidate the universal (libidinal) paradigm of the “goal”, let us re-emphasize that the North American paradigm of the hoop, ie. the basket, was not imported from the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, James Naismith invented or “desired the game into being” because of identical libidinal structures, inherent to the mind of every male, even to that of a couple of thousand years ago. The paradigm is universal because of the universality of both the libidinal structure of the male mind and the representatives of the sex drive: coitus, vagina, penis, castration or the menacing castrator, ie. the father, and the object of desire having a vagina, ie. the mother as experienced during infancy. The fact that the ball (phallus) was passed between the players by feet, hips, elbows or torso and that the goal of the game was to throw the ball, ie. symbolically copulate, through the hoop, into the symbolic vagina, shows that the game had a universal and latent libidinal structure. In those times, the game ended with the first team to successfully "copulate with the adversary's (stolen) woman". By means of game rules secondary elaboration redefined the game by introducing a time limit and halftimes. The paradigm of the goal or the basket, representing an opening through which the ball, ie. phallus, has to be inserted, remains identical. Clearly, the secondary elaboration affected the game’s structure as early as over one thousand years ago, all with the intention to make the game more playable. Due to obvious difficulties in “scoring” (a goal,) the team that had succeeded in carrying the ball outside the playing field was awarded a bonus or, rather, some points. The game was (probably) a domain of men, who had “desired the game into being”, still this does not necessarily mean that women with a phalically structured personality and hooked on infantile or Oedipal penis envy, would not have copied the men, entering the game or even organizing their own by following the men's example. Surely, the males must have felt certain (unconscious) reluctance to include women in "their" games, for their unconscious mind was well aware of the reason why such games had been invented in the first place: because of women.

At one point, for instance, Mesoamerican players generated the paradigm of "the third person", i.e. the observer or spectator, which can be explained by means of the processes of identification. Even then enthusiastic spectators would continuously put bets on the game’s outcome. A Spanish chronicler reports that even then there were bets on the winner of the ball game, which had a special place in the paradigm of competitive or sports games. Because of the increased affect, betting substantially increases the pleasure. The spectators would pawn their belongings, such as gold, turquoises, rich garments, even slaves, fields, and houses. Agreeing at this point with the thesis that the Mesoamerican game had a religious meaning would be an insult to psychoanalysis. We may, however, very well say that the manifest interpretation of the game, which as any game had a latent content, was religious and, in this way, we shall avoid offending classical historians and anthropologists. But the latent and manifest paradigms in the structure of any game will throw some light on the libidinal side of the game. That people really tried to predict future from the flight of the ball should primarily be regarded as mana, “something to fill in the lack of sense”. Mana is typically inhabited by the desire to be able to predict the future for real, which does away with many an obscurity that may invoke either pleasure or discomfort. Elimination of the element of random chance or obscurity helps many people to feel relieved, which might have produced the pleasure that contributed to the introduction of the desire to foretell the future.

As already indicated, the Mesoamerican ball game “outscored” the English kicking of a dead Viking's head in cruelty and the amounts of spilt blood. Some of the preserved Mesoamerican etchings suggest that the defeated team did not lose just the match but their lives as well. Should the game in its manifestation really have been understood as a religious ritual, it is well possible that the defeated team was sacrificed to the gods. The manifest side of decapitation is always coupled with the latent one. Freud emphasized now and again that decapitation (always) means castration. On the latent symbolic level, the contestants in sports have always been and will be sexual competitors that males want to get rid of - at least by means of castration if not complete elimination, and this is exactly why the competitive game (with its latent symbolic structure) evolved. The introduction of the religiously interpreted manifestation or disguise makes symbolic castration in the form of elimination (decapitation) a legitimate act. The sacrifice was not demanded by any deity but by the (threatened) men, who as sexual competitors fought for the most favorable position in wooing their (libidinal) objects of desire – women as the successors of their Oedipally experienced mother. This is the universal libidinal paradigm which generated the agon paradigm of sports (or, competitive) games, which always have a symbolic libidinal structure.

This sportological theoretical discourse needs a further in-depth look into the theory of sports games. The principle of reality, viz. the sexual inaccessibility of the desired woman, and the Superego make the sexual (coital) pleasure with a woman impossible. As a way out of the frustrating situation, the Ego, under an unbearable pressure of the Id to gain sexual pleasure, makes up, or rather, “desires up” a substitute (subliminal, symbolic) satisfaction in the form of a sports game in which the sexual rival, ie. a male as a sports competitor, is symbolically castrated, and the woman “in possession" of the rival is symbolically coited with. In this particular type of theorizing a (hetero)sexualized sports game, the Superego no longer plays an important role as it has become redundant. The secondary elaboration does not intervene with the game in any other way than it would if the influence of the Superego was present. Once codified, symbolization is introduced by universal - Freud would call them "typical” - sports substitute forms or symbols of the basic representatives of the sex drive, and the Superego fails to comprehend, to “see” the sexuality of the (latent) structure of a sports game. The Superego is totally confused and duped by the codified symbolic structure. The Id may now freely indulge in pleasure. The Superego, satisfied, observes the goings-on in silence, without comprehending the (libidinally latently structured) symbolic coituses, which, as a matter of fact, are under the Superego’s censorship. In other words, the subject (individual) is “interpellated" or hailed into the game outside the Superego's register of sexuality.

Any discussion of football cannot disregard the fact that the development of the game was greatly improved by the regularity of the ball bounces and the clearly defined rules, be it in football, handball, basketball or even volleyball (with no goal in sight, the latent structure of volleyball is conceptually slightly different and more complex in terms of interpretation). The secondary elaboration, subsequently, made Naismith's basketball playable and helped define the rules in football. The number of players settled at eleven, the size of the goal was defined, and the size of the pitch was set at 90 to 120 meters in length and at 45 to 90 meters in width. The 16-meter penalty area and the goalkeeper's space were defined. A centre circle was drawn to literally start the ball rolling. The match was divided into two halftimes, each lasting 45 minutes. The penalty kicks and the direct or the indirect free kicks were introduced. Fouls, misconducts, offside positions, substitutions, overtime in case of a tie (in elimination matches), penalties (red or yellow card or suspensions) were introduced. Also, referees and their assistants were introduced, who soon gained the tag of the symbolic representation of the Father figure. Likewise, the coach, who entered the sports paradigm or the paradigm of training later on, at a “secondary” stage, soon acquired the role of the symbolic representation of the Father.

In the web of all the "secondary" circumstances, the game became truly playable, logical and reasonable. The changes were introduced gradually and in different places, first of all in England. The written rules are seconded by the unwritten ones, applying mostly to fair play. 1843 (according to some sources: 1846) saw the printed codification of fairly uniform rules at Cambridge University, which favorably affected the organization of football. The University football code served as a basis to the newly founded English Football Association and was thereby clearly distinguished from the game called rugby, which was well spread around the town of Rugby in the middle of the 19th century. The new code of football was, however, first observed only twenty years later during a match between London and Sheffield. The match was a surprise to many sports (football) fans and was considered a watershed in the (established) way of thinking. Until that time, nobody had thought of organizing football clashes between two teams from fairly distant places. After a couple of years, fifteen (eleven according to some sources) English football teams collected the money to finance the first Cup as the prize and then competed to determine the winner. The popularity of the game was increased through the chain of these events as well as by the libidinal latent structure of the game linked to pleasure and the identification of the spectators. The 1901 Cup Final was watched by more than 100,000 people.

Even before Pierre de Coubertin’s revival of the Olympic Games towards the end of the 19th century, football had been spreading all over Europe at an extraordinary pace, especially with the help from English workers, since there was long-distance transportation, and migrations between continents had become a fairly everyday occurrence. Great Britain had a considerable number of colonies all around the world.

Football was spread to the East by merchants. A textile trader is said to have presented it to the Russians. Turkey saw the first officially recorded match between the teams of English workers or officials at the British Embassy in Istanbul and Greek students who had seen the game played in England. The English were keen travelers, and once traveling by train was made possible and relatively comfortable, tourism took off and had its fair share of influence in the spread of the game. Football was brought to South America or Brazil, today a football super power, by sailors as early as 1870, yet its zealous spread did not happen before several decades later.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand started with their own, rather loose rules, making their ball game look like a hybrid between rugby and football. However, the paradigms of the goal and that of two opposing teams (involved in a conflict) were nevertheless observed - agon in classical Greek means conflict (opposition), rather than a competition in the modern sense of the word.

During the period of the boom of "English football" the USA had cultivated its own sports. Particularly popular even then was American football, a variant of rugby. The first official intercollegiate match was played in New Brunswick, New Jersey, on November 6th, 1869. As was the case with football, rugby caught on for the same reason, because the male unconscious has (universal) libidinal dispositions which process the American touchdown as libidinal investments charged with affect, or, rather, "energized”. That something in humans that experiences pleasure is the Id, the only one to be capable of "reading" and understanding the language of symbols (the Ego and the Superego cannot compare with the Id in this meta-space). Something in the game becomes “pleasurable” only when the Id is taken by symbolic representation. That “something” that acquires the status of a symbol in a game means that its manifest content is not what is perceived or comprehended by our consciousness or the Ego. It is in fact an entirely “different” matter, which is libidinal, latently concealed, encoded. A sports game needs to be translated or decoded to make sure that its latent message is understood. What is essential is the symbolic, unconscious, latent, and not the manifest content. Once again: the structure and logic of a sports game is as good as identical with that of dreams. Sports may truly be interpreted on the basis of practically identical concepts as used in dream interpretation by Freud. That latent basis of a competitive or sports game presents fulfillment of an unconscious and sexually structured desire, which Freud, making a connection with children’s games, applied to his interpretation of some segments of art, more specifically to literature.

During his entire life, Freud endeavored to write a scientific theoretical work for his successors to lean on when trying to understand and explain the human mental pathos and society in general. We, however, focused here on sports and presented a meta-psychological approach that might be helpful in understanding sports, if, of course, the readers manage to rid themselves of the dislikes provoked by such pan(hetero)sexual theories. We shall ignore here the thought that Freud might have resented the above presented idea of the original heterosexuality of the human mind; hopefully, genetics will succeed before much longer in finding a clear answer as to the genetic determination of the heterosexuality of the human mental gender, which, affected by (a specific type of) "upbringing" or primary identification and in spite of the "normal" genes, can still be subject to further reinterpretation or even revision.
(Tim Vodeb - joy, scoring a goal)


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Internet resources:

Roman Vodeb has two sons: Tim (1990) & Nik (1994), both are football/soccer-players.

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