clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Maybe we should let people use the soccer (or football) terminology they prefer

New, 2 comments

Don't be that person, giving others a hard time for using this or that word.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

A couple weeks ago, SB Nation's Matt Ufford made a video about soccer snobs. He had a lot of good points, even if some of the criticisms cut pretty close to the bone for soccer superfans like me. Hey, sometimes you have to call it like you see it.

Obviously he wasn't saying all soccer fans are boring, obnoxious snobs. But you know, there is one thread of snobbery I'd like to call attention to: The arbiters of terminology.

Whether you get mad online for some poor soul calling it "The MLS" or enforce/denounce the plethora of English terminology in the sport ("The center half just played the ball into touch"), you need to lighten up.

The latest battleground is apparently Facebook, at least according to the eminently respectable MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference:

That's...uh. Wow.

I mean, the entry point for these pointless terminology wars, in the U.S. anyway, is soccer vs. football/futbol. People get unbelievably worked up over which word should be used -- I sat in on a fan roundtable one time and one fan present got visibly and physically angry anytime one of us used the word "soccer," which unsurprisingly put a chill on the entire group's conversation.

The thing is, Facebook is a company and they can make whatever rules they want. I assume this effort to ban soccer was intended to get employees thinking beyond the U.S. and get in touch with other cultures, which is certainly worthy. But you could make, you know, strong recommendations, and not have to go to the length of actually banning a useful word.

And let's face it, even for those in this country who insist it must be called football, it is constantly confusing to use that word in general conversation. "Oh, I'm a football fan," leads most Americans to assume you're talking about American football, a term that may be correct but that no one willingly uses. When there's another perfectly good word that is distinct from what folks understand to be "football" why not use it?

My point is that there should be no pride taken in insisting on any term over another. Language is contextual -- it's fine to use football sometimes and soccer sometimes. Whether you want people to use the British "clean sheet" or the American "shutout," get over yourself. You should not shut someone out because they called a bicycle kick a chilena, or vice versa. The multicultural, multilingual nature of the sport means the vocabulary we can draw on is immense. And by nit-picking over whether a writer, a commentator, or a fellow fan used the word you prefer, you are being a total drag, causing needless discord, and imposing a barrier for fans who may be just getting into the sport or who come to it from a different perspective than you.

In other words, live and let live. Don't limit yourself or judge others for their vocabularies. Pick your battles in arenas that actually matter.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!