The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.

We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.

Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.

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Every Scar Tells a Story

Torn paint

Quick question, since everyone seems to be comfortable with the idea of God as a color commentator: who’s doing play-by-play?

Read Richard’s post on how ESPN didn’t totally screw up its coverage of Euro 2008.

Read Dave’s perfectly executed headbutt to the sternum of MLS (video footage to be suppressed immediately).

Read The Game on Sepp Blatter’s use of the word “slavery” to describe Cristiano Ronaldo’s £120,000-a-week contract with Man Utd. Turns out it isn’t the first loopy thing he’s said!

Read Antonio G’s brilliant post on the future of football tactics.

More generally: Sports and the role of the past.

The Gaffer at EPL Talk recently asked whether today’s achievements can stand up to the legends of yesterday, and found that they cannot (he wrote off art, music, and literature as well as sports, so prepare for a soulless future of easily winded men). Fredorrarci, fresh off the Wimbledon final, argues that 1) oh, yes they can, and 2) focusing excessively on the past can cause you to miss the vitality in present moments that made you care about those earlier moments in the first place.

I agree with Fredorrarci—or at least I think no one has a wide enough field of reference to judge the question, and that the most we can do is wring as much as we can from the present. The proof of this is that people have always felt they were living in a hopelessly fallen moment and longed for an escape into the past: nineteenth-century artists wanted to live in the Renaissance, Renaissance artists wanted to live in classical Rome, the Kinks spent half their career mourning the fact that it was no longer 1913, contemporary bands spend half their careers trying to copy the Kinks, Cervantes parodied the impulse in Don Quixote, Henry James scrutinized it in “The Madonna of the Future,” every 12-year-old boy is convinced he’s a misplaced medieval knight, etc.

The near-paradox of this is that part of making the most of the present is knowing as much as we can about the past, which is why I recommend Richard’s ongoing series on the history of football in Toronto at A More Splendid Life. He’s reassembling fragments of some interesting old stories without either sentimentalizing them or using them as a soapbox from which to complain about Cristiano Ronaldo’s 21st-century curls.

I have more to say about all this, but this was supposed to be a link post, so I’ll cut it short for now. Transfer Gossip Poetry Grenade Vol. III lands in your foxhole tomorrow.

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Every Scar Tells a Story

by Brian Phillips · July 10, 2008

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