Why “Soccer” and not “Football”? Blame it on the Brits!
So it`s the World Cup and what a joy to be in a place like Argentina during this time. Just like any other event, be it a concert or local football game, the people are as passionate as you can imagine. When Argentina plays, the streets are empty and you hear shouting and screaming from all the buildings around. Restaurants and homes are decorated in flags of light blue and white. Many offices are equipped with extra monitors and TVs to watch the games while working. Store are closed in order to not miss a moment, and no one–except two foreigners (myself included)–came to a class that was scheduled before game 2 on a Saturday. Whether you like football or not, it`s hard to not get sucked into the excitement somehow!
I`m American and grew up watching “the other football.” You know – the one that does not have to do with feet at all? Come on America! Why do we have to be different than the rest of the world? I have been annoyed by this, just like many of you, but there is a reason for it and it`s not American arrogance. In fact, it`s the Brit`s fault!
The word “soccer” is a diminutive of association, as in As-soc-iation Football. In the early 1800`s, a group of British universities took the medieval game “football” and started playing their own versions of it, all with different rules. In order to standardize things across the country, however, these games were categorized under different organizations and given different names. One version of the game played with only hands became “Rugby Football.” Another version was called “Association Football.” Rugby Football later became “Rugger” for short, and Association Football later became “Assoccer,” quickly changing to “Soccer” alone.
Eventually Rugby and Soccer both spread across to the United States in the early 1900`s. What was known as “Gridiron” in Britian was called Football in America and “Association Football” kept the name “Soccer.” The Brits also kept using the term “Soccer” for a large part of the 20th century; in fact between 1960 and 1980, “Soccer” and “Football” were “almost interchangeable” terms in Britain. The first documented case of the sport being called by the term “Football” was in 1881, 18 years after it was first called “Soccer” (or officially “Association Football.”)
Soccer is not as popular in the United States, although things are changing. Of non-Brazilian fans visiting this year`s World Cup for example, the greatest number of fans come from the US! Personal economics makes a difference of course, but that is more than neighboring Argentina fans. Vamos USA!
So… it will be hard to overcome the many stereotypes against Americans and “Soccer” but remember this, it isn`t our fault! I was surprised too!
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