Evolution of football

Evolutionary psychology is fascinating, but it is also criticised because it is a bit too easy to come up with evolutionary explanations. For instance one can pick an interesting phenomenon (maybe to do with sex) then from millions of possible scenarios that one can imagine  select a possible way in which that behavior has evolved. So one can choose both what to explain and how to explain it.

It would be very useful for evolutionary psychology to focus on the stuff that seems hard to explain. Football for example. I waste quite a bit of time watching football, even when I have no connection with any of the teams, and many males are like me. It starts extremely early, a ball is almost the perfect toy for a small boy, so simple and yet so powerful in capturing his attention. So where is the problem? The problem is that kicking a ball has very little evolutionary relevance. Imagine yourself in the stone age. There is absolutely nothing around you worth kicking about. If you want to hit something you would use your hands, not your feet. Not only that, but if you ever tried to kick something, nothing around you will lend itself to such activity (try kicking or heading a stone or a branch).

Even if you were to find a kickable object, like an animal’s bladder, most surfaces are unsuitable because they are either too rough, too slanted, or the grass is too high.

So my question is this, where is all the powerful drive to play this type of game coming from?

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