At Play / En Juego: Fútbol in the Land of Football
“Dime como juegas y to dire como eres.” – Eduardo Galeano, Futbol en Sol y Sombra
“Tell me how you play and you will show me you how you are.” Eduardo Galeano, Soccer in Sun and Shadow
The At Play: Futbol in the Land of Football project started in Fall 2015, with a proposal for a class on the global history and local realities of soccer to the Honors College. “A ball, a field, at least five people: elements which have evolved into a global phenomenon, providing fodder for claims about national identity, and establishing the most watched activity ever. Soccer is too important to leave to fans. This course investigates the institutions, aesthetics, and ideologies shaping the game.” The goal of the class was to research what soccer meant to people playing the game in central Texas, to use the tools of collaborative social history to turn soccer into a particular kind of mirror for life in Texas.
The project’s methods are rooted in social history, migration studies, and collaborative public history. At Play started with essays by Texas State Honors College students on the place of soccer in their lives. The next stage in the At Play project then focused on people who had spent a large portion of their adult lives ferrying themselves to the fields to play. Students completed some of these interviews; I [John Mckiernan-González] completed the majority of the interviews during my weekly communion with my fellow soccer believers. We asked players the same four intentionally open-ended questions: How did you become aware of soccer? When did you first start playing soccer? When did you start playing organized soccer? And, what keeps you playing soccer? This consistency should allow readers to compare responses across three generations of players, given that the age range spans from 19 to 78.
The pages below explore the projects findings. They are organized generationally, focusing first on soccer in the first half of the 20th century, then moving by decade from the 1970s through the early 2 000s. Pages are included to give a further overview of the project as well as discuss the many findings. Finally, a bibliography is provided listing all source material used.
Most pages contain interactive maps and other content featuring interviews, player information stats, and the locations each player most frequents.