I wince every time I hear the word “soccer.” It makes my beloved sport football sound so alien, so uncouth, almost like someone just swore at me. Socca!.Socker!.Soccer!
I understand the Americans need something to differentiate their own brand of football from the more beautiful game of football that the rest of the world loves and plays, but I do not understand why I hear this word being used by non-Americans and often in articles on the Internet. Or maybe I do understand it but just don’t like it. Not one bit.
A major reason could be because of the large amount of coverage that American football gets on the Internet and US media; some might tag their articles as soccer to avoid any unnecessary confusion. And this is what scares me – the power that the Americans have on global culture and language.
American football is an odd name for a sport. It is, of course, American: very American. But I have a problem with them appropriating the term football, while giving the game of real football the slang “soccer.” Balls, by definition, are “objects with a spherical shape,” but I can let go of that for the moment. My biggest gripe is with the use of the word “foot.”
The game of “American Football” is hardly ever played with the foot. I haven’t watched a lot of American football, but I mostly see people carrying the ball around and smashing into each other for a few minutes between the commercial breaks. The few moments of punting cannot be enough to call a game “football.” This is in complete contrast to the game of “soccer” in which they exclusively play with the foot with the occasional use of head and chest.
The origin of words might give us a hint as to this unusual development of names, and I understand that often words evolve to uses which have nothing to do with their original meanings.
But in 2007, Australia officially converted their associations from soccer to football. So did New Zealand and Samoa. Only the North American countries of USA and Canada remain. So there is hope, and I sincerely hope that someday they convert too.
But I can’t help but fear for the sport of football, or might I say, for the name “football.” I do not wish to be in a world which calls it soccer. And knowing the influence that American cultural exports seem to have on the rest of the world, my fears are definitely justified.
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