Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Football Vs. Football

I have two main inspirations for this post. The first is George Bernard Shaw’s observation that “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.” 

Two Irishmen

The second is George Carlin’s classic skit in which he compares football and baseball. You know, the one where he observes:

In football you wear a helmet. In baseball you wear a cap…

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog... In baseball, if it rains, we don't go out to play…

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy's defensive line. In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! I hope I'll be safe at home!

I’m sure you’ll agree that there are some major differences between football and soccer as well, and with plenty of opportunities to mess things up language-wise to boot. Here, let me show you …

Football: football 
Soccer: American football
The confusion starts with the very most basic concepts. The two sides can’t even agree on what to call the games themselves.

Football: soccer
Soccer: football
Interestingly, even the Brits called soccer “soccer” into the 60s. The name comes from “association football,” a name given to football played under rules developed in the mid-19th Century (and to distinguish it from other, more primitive forms of foot-and-ball games).

Football: field 
Soccer: pitch
“Pitch” is typically something you do. You might, for example, pitch a tent, or pitch a baseball. Noun-wise, you’ve got a tarry substance and a musical quality. Only across the pond is a pitch something you would ever think of playing a game on.

Two movies, no relation

Football: sidelines
Soccer: touchlines
Both of these make sense, especially when you consider that in soccer a ball that goes past these lines has to be thrown in – the only time a non-goalie can, in fact, touch the ball.

Football: team 
Soccer: club
I don’t know. “Club” sounds awfully friendly and amateurish and even non-athletic to my ears. I mean, no one ever refers to the chess team or the photography team, now do they? 

Football: coach 
Soccer: manager
Here’s another one I can live with. Heck, baseball’s got a manager as well.

Football: uniform 
Soccer: kit
A kit? Now, I can believe a mess kit, or a model airplane kit, but a kit as something you wear? Makes no sense whatsoever.

This is a kit

Football: shoes 
Soccer: boots
On this side of the Atlantic, a boot usually refers to something long and/or clunky – i.e., not something you’d expect to run 11 kilometers in (that’s about seven miles in ‘Murcan), let alone be able to control a soccer ball with with any accuracy.

Football: cleats 
Soccer: studs
This one’s not too objectionable, but what I really think of when I think of “studs” is wall board, male horses, and all those women who get all interested in soccer every four years just because the guys are so “cute.”

Football: game 
Soccer: match
Sporting events are typically called one of three things: a game, a match, or a race. God forbid you should mix them up. There’s nothing like referring to a “NASCAR match,” a “tennis race,” or a “wrestling game” to let folks know you’re “not from around these parts.”

Football: tie 
Soccer: draw
Once again, I can live with this. I’m not so sure, though, when this turns into a verb. I don’t think any red-blooded American would ever say that the Stillers and da Bears “drew.”

Football: zero 
Soccer: nil
Would you believe “nil” is Latin? Yup, it’s a shortened form of nihil, which means “nothing.” Now, ask yourself … Should sports lingo really involve Latin abbreviations?

Football: preseason 
Soccer: friendly
Once again, soccer is way too chummy in this regard. There shouldn’t be anything friendly about sports, now should there?

Football: rivalry
Soccer: derby
No, this has nothing to do with hats. Also, it’s pronounced “dahr-bee,” not “duhr-bee.”

The term may actually come from an ancient game of soccer that was played between parishes in the English town of Derby, in the Midlands (read more right here). By the way, that also so happens to be where I was born!

This is a derby

Football: shutout 
Soccer: clean sheet
It sounds like this term may have come from scorekeeping, when the only real stats that were recorded were scores. A scoreless match would then result in a blank piece of paper – a “clean sheet.” All I can think of, though, is the laundry.

These are clean sheets

Football: final 
Soccer: full time
Actually, I’m going to have to reward the Brits with the points on this one. I mean, both games have a half time, right? Only soccer, though, is consistent in using the same idea for the end of the game as well.

Football: standings 
Soccer: table
I sort of see where they’re going with this one, but I really associate tables with how data might be shown in a textbook, not with where Manchester United happens to be situated on that particular Sunday.

Football: trophy 
Soccer: cup
So, this is a Venn diagram sort of thing. In particular, I see the word “trophy” including “cups,” but also many other things as well. In soccer, though, everything’s a “cup,” whether it’s actually a cup or not. Just think of the World Cup award itself – it’s a bulky little statue!

This looks like a turkey leg

Football: trade 
Soccer: transfer
There might be some real accuracy in these two terms. In football, the movement of players tends to go two ways. You give me Jim John and I’ll give you Bob Mike. In soccer, though, there really aren’t trades so much as signings. And those signings involve the transfer of money to the original club. Let’s leave these two alone. 

Football: fan 
Soccer: supporter
So, if I root, root, root for the home team in the UK, I guess that would make me an “athletic supporter,” right? Hmm, I wonder what those crazy Brits call what we ‘Murcans use to protect our yarbles? Why, a “jock,” of course.

This is an athletic supporter

Football: program
Soccer: programme
No biggee here. Those guys just don’t know how to spell.

Football: offsides
Soccer: no equivalent

Football: no equivalent
Soccer: offsides

Football: tackle
Soccer: foul
Actually, this wouldn’t just be a foul, but a red card, and a possible suspension. 

Football: penalty 
Soccer: tackle
The particular penalty here would be kicking the ball. And the penalty for that would be to have the clock reset. Wait a minute – wrong sport …