Professor Hoyningen-Huene, you’re a philosopher of science but also focus on the philosophical connections between soccer and society. How did that come about?
In 2002, when the World Cup was taking place in Japan and South Korea, I got home late one night, very tired. My son, who was ten at the time, absolutely wanted to watch the rerun of a match. In my exhaustion, I asked myself what was so fascinating about a ball rolling over a line painted on the grass and why it aroused such strong emotions in so many people.
What conclusions did you come to?
Every soccer fan knows how important chance, along with ability, is in soccer. It makes the result unpredictable. This fortune and misfortune, in combination with skill or the lack thereof, is also representative of the “drama of our life,” meaning what happens to us in everyday life.
What exactly do you mean by that?
Our lives aren’t completely predictable. If we wish to do something, there are always circumstances that can influence the results in a positive or negative way. Anyone looking back on their life so far undoubtedly recognizes that many decisive courses of action were products of chance—for instance, because you met a particular person or were at the right place at the right time. That’s what I call the “drama of life.” nbsp;
And this takes place in a condensed manner on a soccer field?
Yes, because coincidences always play a role there. If you take a close look at both teams before a match, you can often say which is more likely to win. But it’s not certain—particularly at events like the World Cup, it happens again and again that the supposedly weaker team defeats the stronger one. This sort of drama with this intensity is nearly impossible to find in other sports.