More Than Just A Game

In More Than Just A Game, Chuck Korr and Marvin Close make a convincing case that soccer had an impact on the movement that ended apartheid in South Africa.

Their reasoning is that the establishment of a soccer league in the prison on Robben Island provided the political prisoners associated with various anti-apartheid factions with the opportunity to work together and helped teach them learn to trust and respect each other. Organizing the league and playing the games also helped the inmates remain sane and relatively healthy in an environment that might otherwise have broken them. Beyond that, playing soccer made the prisoners feel less isolated from the rest of the world; they were competing in and caring about the same game that was delighting people all over the globe.

Perhaps, as the subtitle of the book claims, all this makes More Than Just A Game “the most important soccer story ever told.” Certainly the saga of the Makana Football Association, which operated from the mid-sixties until Robben Island was closed in 1991, is entertaining and compelling as a story of how strong, ingenious, determined men can wring solidarity and joy out of even the most hideous circumstances.

This program aired on May 13, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Bill Littlefield

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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