What is the thing that we refer to as a ‘sport’? Ask the question and you get the answer that it is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Now if you ask what ‘religion’ is, you get the answer that it is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. What if I tell you that two things as vastly different as sports and religion could be brought together, could be juxtaposed? Your initial thought process would involve you reaching the conclusion that it is not possible and the attempt would be as fruitless as trying to put together two poles of a magnet.
But there’s one thing in this world, if not many, that lies at the meeting point, the intersection of both sports and religion. It is that which is a game in itself but has its arms drawn around people as much as religion can and has done since its origin. It is football. It the European way of kicking around a round ball, made of either leather or plastic and filled with compressed air, without the complete and absolute use of hands that brings together every nook and corner of the world, even previously unknown-to-us ones, with people from every form and every walk of life taking an interest in the said game.
To try and talk about something as huge as religion would be a vain and stupid attempt. It is the belief that binds together people from around the world in an unseen and sometimes unwanted bond that is as hard to let go of as letting go of something very close to your heart and soul. It is the unfathomable rope tying together lose strands of population from around the globe and bringing and placing them under one roof common to every individual in that group.
Legendary and unforgettable football sensations and icons like Diego Maradona and Pele, whom everyone is familiar with including those not interested in football, referred to football as not just a mere game or sport, but a religion; the ball as the God, one that demands caressing and not just kicking around.
Football is an experience. The word ‘football’ has something romantic about it that draws towards itself millions of people from all around the world. It is, indeed, a word of millions to conjure with. Taking a look back at history, we can find that football had originated in a town called Rugby in Italy. This view is sometimes challenged by a view put forward by a few historians that the game has its roots back in China but the view can be substantially ratified.
How wonderful it is to see something as entertaining as football bring together people and unite them for one common cause, that being their love for the game! Take for example the FIFA World Cup tournaments that happen to be one of the biggest events to take place every four years that unite people from all walks of life.
In India too, the sport is immensely popular with kids and adults alike. It is enjoyed all over the world by men and women, kids and oldies.
So to conclude, I’d ask you a question that Howard Cosell already has- after all, is football a game or a religion?