Vocab

by Kieran Healy on June 15, 2006

Waiting for the England vs Trinidad & Tobago match to start (come on the Caribbean!), I came across this story about a giant ocean vortex spinning off the coast of Australia. The article notes in passing that the vortex is “visible from space.” I think this expression needs to be retired. These days, the hosereel in my back yard is visible from space, and conveniently catalogued in an NSA database somewhere. (See: Potential WMD.) While I’m wasting your time, I want to complain about English (and Irish) football supporters who prissily correct Americans for using the word “soccer” and avoid that word themselves. I mean, it’s not as if the Americans invented the word—the Brits did, in the late 19th century, and the modern spelling was standardized around 1910. People used it interchangeably with “football” (and occasionally “Garrison Game”) when I was a kid.

OK, the game is starting. I predict Wayne Rooney will come on some time in the second half, and he will be so pumped with weeks of pent-up excitement that he’ll charge two-footed into his first tackle, breaking the leg of whoever is on the other end and tearing his own cruciate ligament to ribbons.

Update: Argh, so close for T&T—cleared off the line! Also: Peter Crouch could have cooked his dinner in the box and still had time and space to hit that cross properly. England fans must be apoplectic at this point.

Update: Rooney on for Owen. Let’s see how long it takes for someone to stamp on his foot.

Update: Oh well.

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John Quiggin » Blog Archive » Soccer or Football
06.15.06 at 8:26 pm

{ 48 comments }

1

Brendan 06.15.06 at 11:09 am

Is Wayne Rooney’s metatarsal visible from space?

It has certainly had more publicity in the last few weeks than I recall, say, the moon landing getting.

2

Carl 06.15.06 at 11:27 am

Thanks for the comment on “soccer.” Even more annoying are crazed American fans who prissily correct other Americans for calling it “soccer.” (Yes they do exist.)

3

charles 06.15.06 at 11:55 am

Out of curiosity, which is more common usage in Australia: “football” or “soccer”? I suspect the latter, for much the same reason as the United States. And if so, do Australians get the same grief?

4

P O'Neill 06.15.06 at 11:56 am

It’s particularly crazy for Irish people to be prissy about it, when, to a big chunk of the country, football refers to the homegrown game.

5

Brian 06.15.06 at 11:58 am

Here was I thinking that England would go 3 halves without having a player score then the streak was almost broken, by Rio Ferdinand. But John Terry had to get in the way. That was an excellent clearance though, by far the best thing any England player did in the first half.

6

Chris Bertram 06.15.06 at 12:01 pm

Oh, I dunno about being apoplectic at 1/2 time. England’s odds have actually become attractive enough now to put a bet on.

(You can all laugh at me later if I lose my fiver.)

7

Amardeep 06.15.06 at 12:11 pm

Oy, that clearance was agonizing.

Go soc(c)a warriors!

8

almostinfamous 06.15.06 at 12:17 pm

i can’t believe it.

in the 2 sports channels i get, i’m seeing GOLF and Pro-Wrestling!!

and since it;s about 11PM here, i can’t even call anyone to complain

WTF??

9

Cryptic Ned 06.15.06 at 12:31 pm

#8, you can watch this to pass the time:

10

almostinfamous 06.15.06 at 12:38 pm

i have to satisfy myself with the text from the bbc, which is like radio but with a monotonous robot announcer.

but this (and the peter crouch video) made me wince a little bit:

65 mins: Brent Sancho clatters into Wayne Rooney. It won’t have been a comfortable moment for his club manager Sir Alex Ferguson, wherever the Scot’s watching.

11

moriarty 06.15.06 at 12:42 pm

I prefer the Guardian’s text coverage, which unsuprisingly is less relaible but more entertaining.

12

pp 06.15.06 at 12:48 pm

Goal for Crouch. Too bad for T&T to hang on till the 85′. maybe they will get lucky.

13

Brian 06.15.06 at 12:50 pm

On Charles’s question above, there seems to have been a large upsurge in “football” usage since the World Cup qualification. The Sydney Morning Herald now uses ‘football’ as its standard term. The (Melbourne) Age of course refers to Australia’s own game by ‘football’.

I think it’s widely acknowledged that the choice of terms is more or less political, not a matter of correctness or incorrectness.

14

Chris Bertram 06.15.06 at 12:56 pm

Stevie G, just when needed. Why Sven plays him back there and lets the useless Lampard go forward, God only knows. Bad luck for T+T tho.

15

pp 06.15.06 at 1:01 pm

as games evolve terms used therein become archaic. The term touchdown in american football came from having to touch the ball down to score as it is in rugby. Obviously it has evolved beyond that. Even the term football is archaic as the game is evolving away from the kicking game. Basketball should be hoopball as they don’t use bakets anymore. It actually used to be referred to as cagers because it was played in a cage at one point.

16

nnyhav 06.15.06 at 1:07 pm

“Visible from time” would be a good alternative for lightyear distances, but #1 makes more sense as “risible from space”.

17

Rob G 06.15.06 at 1:07 pm

As disappointed as T&T must feel, it can’t possibly compare to the despair felt by the Poles. Only Germany could have done something so cruel. Oh, wait. Man U as well. Bastards.

Personally, I prefer “a game of 2∗0.5″.

18

Rob 06.15.06 at 1:47 pm

It’s always good to beat the scots – even if their only connection with T&C and the world cup is having a player from another, more successful, in football terms, nation, playing in their “league”.

19

Seth Edenbaum 06.15.06 at 1:59 pm

Ecuador…

20

Cryptic Ned 06.15.06 at 2:15 pm

Goal for Crouch. Too bad for T&T to hang on till the 85’. maybe they will get lucky.

Did he do the robot dance?

21

Rob G 06.15.06 at 2:20 pm

No. Thank God.

22

mijnheer 06.15.06 at 2:47 pm

Pity about that goalmouth clearance, though it was spectacular. I also pity U.S. fans who can’t find a channel carrying the games. In Canada every game is carried live, then replayed later on in the day. So if you’re in Seattle or Buffalo, you’re probably in luck. Let’s see, it’s Canada against France next. Oh, no, that was 1986. Go Ecuador!

23

Seth Edenbaum 06.15.06 at 2:56 pm

en los Estados Unidos, Univision
has every game

24

Roy 06.15.06 at 3:01 pm

NYTimes running commentary by Jeff Z. Klein, Robert Mackey and others has been excellent.

25

Kieran Healy 06.15.06 at 3:02 pm

Yes, hurray for Univision — that’s what I’ve been watching.

26

Amardeep 06.15.06 at 3:32 pm

ESPN2 is carrying the daytime/weekday games in the U.S., though I suppose not every cable company carries the channel. (And of course, not everyone has cable)

The commentators, I find, are a bit so-so. During the Saudi Arabia/Tunisia game yesterday, they spent more time talking about the low morale on the U.S. team than covering the actual game. (And it was a great game, actually — I found myself actually rooting for the Saudis, which felt politically strange)

27

Amanda 06.15.06 at 4:14 pm

Re: soccer v football in Australia. Soccer is the term used most but there has recently been a concerted push to claim “football.” For instance, the governing body changed its name from “Soccer Australia” to the “Football Fed of Aust.” Soccer is here to stay though just out of habit and to differentiate from other forms of footy. And because the national team is the Socceroos, although some jokingly say Footballroos now. As a long-time, long suffering Aussie fan of the round ball game, I really don’t think its something to be precious about. The gurus on SBS, our resident soccer bradcasting station, call it football AND soccer interchangably and I think that’s the way to go.

I initially set my alarm for 1.30am to watch the Eng-T&T game but when the time came I weakened and reset it to 3.30. Glad I did — 20 minutes was painful enough. At least when Australia goes out of the World Cup, which may yet be at the group stage, we can say we played with teamwork and committment. Sheesh.

28

Stuart 06.15.06 at 4:35 pm

#25: Apparently lots of US fans of the game are watching Univision (despite not speaking Spanish at all) because its more fun to watch on that channel than the dire ESPN commentating. Can’t comment personally of course, but its been fairly unanimous.

England left it late, nearly as big a goal drought as Sweden between the first and second goals in the tournament, but couple of good results and showing a few sparks here and then, and dominating the play for large parts of both game I think. Theres certainly potential, but they need to step up before the serious stuff starts in a little over a week.

29

Cryptic Ned 06.15.06 at 4:40 pm

England left it late, nearly as big a goal drought as Sweden between the first and second goals in the tournament,

Sweden don’t have a second goal yet.

30

Ian Whitchurch 06.15.06 at 4:56 pm

World class snark about England from the Guardian’s minute by minute report …

“I like these journeymen,” writes Aleksandar Zizic. “The boy Joe Cole had a few nice touches and can beat his man. The wobbly afro-haired centre-back by the name of Rio shows nice awareness and willingness to play the ball. Perhaps a big club move awaits him in the near future?”

31

Neil 06.15.06 at 6:32 pm

Brian wrote:

I think it’s widely acknowledged that the choice of terms is more or less political, not a matter of correctness or incorrectness.

Way to beg the question against cognitivism, Brian!

32

Ben 06.15.06 at 7:04 pm

Lampard missed so many chances, Gerrard really needs to be given more licence to go forward and do what he did…

33

Ben 06.15.06 at 7:17 pm

p.s. T&T had a player whose name sounded rather like Chris Bertram. A couple of us watching certainly did a double take the first time the commentators mentioned it…

34

Tracy W 06.15.06 at 8:44 pm

I don’t know about how Brits treat Aussies who talk about soccer, but they hassle Kiwis who do.

Or at least try to. Luckily from my point of view, if any Brit starts hassling you about anything, just tell them that you’re really impressed with how well British people drive. The compliment upsets them deeply and they will drop any other topic in order to try to convince you that the British are in fact terrible drivers.

35

Simstim 06.15.06 at 9:06 pm

Tracy W: I was expecting a taunt about Rugby would be the solution (the Kiwis being the Brazil of the Rugby world… almost.)

36

john m. 06.16.06 at 2:40 am

I have managed to get through life so far without noticing that calling football soccer annoys football people (or something). I shall now take great pleasure in always using the word soccer, in all circumstances. Actually simstim, as the All Blacks have never actually won the rugby world cup (amazingly) mentioning it to a Kiwi, however indirectly, is likely to really upset them.

37

nick s 06.16.06 at 2:53 am

Apparently lots of US fans of the game are watching Univision (despite not speaking Spanish at all) because its more fun to watch on that channel than the dire ESPN commentating.

I’ve been flicking back and forth. ESPN has a god-awful graphics package with top and bottom tickers; Univision blocks less of the picture. And the English-language commentators on ESPN start at ‘pretty crap’ and head downhill. No technical analysis whatsoever.

Let’s just say that I’ve never seen as many promos for sub-Benny Hill sitcoms in my life.

38

snuh 06.16.06 at 3:41 am

as the All Blacks have never actually won the rugby world cup

sadly, this is untrue. they won in ’87.

39

john h 06.16.06 at 3:43 am

Call it thickball. Everyone will know what you’re talking about.

40

Chris Bertram 06.16.06 at 3:54 am

p.s. T&T had a player whose name sounded rather like Chris Bertram. A couple of us watching certainly did a double take the first time the commentators mentioned it…

Chris Birchall, plays for Port Vale. Had never been to T+T until selected (his mum was born there). Known to the rest of the team as “Da White Boy” (according to Radio 5 Live).

41

duaneg 06.16.06 at 4:50 am

tracy w:
Neat trick, I’ll have to keep it in mind. Myself, I quite enjoy gratuituously using the word “soccer” around brits. Always a good way to get a friendly argument going with my co-workers. Some people take it a bit personally though. Discretion is advised.

john m: “…as the All Blacks have never actually won the rugby world cup…”

We won the first one, dammit, in 1987. Not that I’m defensive about the AB’s world cup performance in any way. Ahem.

42

psg 06.16.06 at 5:50 am

‘Soccer’ and ‘rugger’ are English Public School terminology, acceptable enough to lead to the the longest-running British football magazine,’World Soccer’adopting and retaining that name but never heard where I grew up (for instance) in largely working-class Wigan.
The correcting of Americans is an attempt to make them sound like the English-speaking masses rather than the public school ‘elite’

43

john m. 06.16.06 at 6:07 am

Ooops…my bad..genuinely can’t think why I thought that to be the case…must be that the All Blacks have failed to win any since (if you follow me).

44

stostosto 06.16.06 at 6:13 am

The only reasonable solution to the “football” vs. “soccer” dispute (admittedly a rather unimportant matter since Americans are so marginal to football) is that the Americans agree to calling football football and find another and more appropriate name for that peculiar game the Americans insist on calling football instead.

That game has no real ball in it, and whatever ball there is, is only touched by foot with the utmost infrequency. Fortunately, there is a straightforward natural candidate for what to call it: Oddball. Consider: The “ball” is odd, the game is played by oddballs, and it’s watched by still other oddballs. In fact, calling the American game football is irrefutable evidence of this all-round oddness.

In light of the latter, I know it might be unrealistic to expect Americans to ever adopt such an evidently logical solution.

A more realistic, pragmatic alternative might be “freedom ball”.

45

Tim Worstall 06.16.06 at 6:29 am

Soccer? At the risk of being called prissy by John Q it is “association”.
Football is rugby.

Well, it is in towns like Bath, when the football team is in the Premiership and the association one in the Beazer Home Leagues South West Division Two (or whatever they call it these days).

46

Cryptic Ned 06.16.06 at 8:49 am

The problem is, being an American speaking to a European, I don’t want to be an uncouth boor and use the word “soccer”, the game played by American children, when referring to “football”, the game played by highly skilled professionals everywhere else in the world. I feel like I should call it “football” when talking to Europeans.

But then I wonder if, what with me being American and all, when I say “football” they assume I mean American football.

So I end up identifying the two as “soccer football” and “NFL football” or something like that.

The only reasonable solution to the “football” vs. “soccer” dispute (admittedly a rather unimportant matter since Americans are so marginal to football) is that the Americans agree to calling football football and find another and more appropriate name for that peculiar game the Americans insist on calling football instead.

I thought that it was called “gridiron” in a lot of places.

47

Ray 06.16.06 at 9:23 am

I like ‘freedom ball’ myself. Or maybe ‘USA!USA!ball’. What’s not to like?

48

Chris Bertram 06.16.06 at 10:04 am

Having just watched the end of Argentina-Serbia, the correct term is “magic”.

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