August 04, 2008

Two Sons, One Gold Ball

Every year a player is chosen for the Ballon d’Or prize and dubbed “World Footballer of the Year.” This year two possible laureates are backed by increasingly heated debate among managers, retired stars, and fifa bureaucrats. One side is for Cristiano Ronaldo, an attacking midfielder at Manchester United with more goals than most strikers in any league. The other side is for Iker Casillas, a goalkeeper at Real Madrid who only allowed two goals in the Euro 2008 tournament.

The situation is a singularly Schillerean dialectical dead end for both players. Let me explain using Schiller’s Die Räuber, a play in five acts, 1781.

But first, some information about the play's plot line. Karl and Franz are feuding brothers. While Karl is away at school, Franz falsifies a letter to their father listing off a bunch of entertaining ways that Karl is supposed to have sinned. Ashamed, the father writes Karl out of the will. Long story (written in tense, impassioned prose) short: Now Franz is expecting the inheritance, rebuffed Karl joins a band of thieves, Franz hides his father in a dungeon, Karl commits a lot of crimes he will soon resent, Franz commits suicide, Karl turns himself in to the authorities, and Schiller foreshadows his Classicism period during his Storm-and-Stress period. Fin.

C. Ronaldo is like Karl – tradition dictates that an offensive player should get the Ballon d’Or, just as primogeniture guarantees that Karl will get his father’s wealth. If he wins, people will see the outcome as tradition upheld; a goalkeeper hasn’t won the Ballon d’Or since 1963. Which brings me to Casillas, who is like Franz. Franz breaks moral and civil conventions to ascend to his father’s throne. If he wins, people will see it as an unfair, undeserved affront to a stable world (soccer) order. It’s the kind of metanarrative binary opposition of one revolution against the other revolution, one kind of self-individuation against the other kind of self-individuation, a failure to achieve harmony, all of which is totally Schiller’s niche in world literature.


Mark said...

In the world of Schiller and the Ballon d'Or is Lev Yashin Don Carlos?

Brains said...

Ha ha, yes! Except that Die Räuber is older, like Yashin. :)

Ethical Plebean said...

Now I don't know who to choose! Poor Karl was unjustly defamed by his brother to be disinherited, which isn't a good argument for overturning tradition. If only Karl had done something wrong in the first place, then I'd be onboard with sacking the bastard. Did Rinaldo do anything sneaky? Did Casillas do anything dishonest? However does one pick... Sigh.

Anonymous said...

this whole site is brilliant.
keep it up!