Here in the US what we call football is entirely different than what most of the rest of the world think of as football. I totally understand why “American football” is often mocked by followers of soccer/football outside of our country. Face the facts, the word football by definition refers to a ball that is maneuvered by the foot. NFL football is more about passing and running with the ball followed by an occasional field goal or extra point scored by a kicked ball.
To get to the bottom of this situation I decided to do a bit of research on the origins of the words football and soccer when it comes to describing these two sports. Here’s what I was able to find out:
A recent paper by University of Michigan professor Stefan Szymanski explains that the Brits are partly to blame.
The word “soccer,” which is believed to have originated in Britain some 200 years ago, comes from the official name of the sport, “association football.” As other versions of the game evolved to include Rugby Football, it is believed the Brits adopted colloquialisms to distinguish each game.
“The rugby football game was shortened to ‘rugger,’ and the association football game was, shortened to ‘soccer’”.
Gradually, the term “soccer” gained popularity in the U.S. to distinguish the sport from American football. By the 1980s, the Brits began to part with the term, apparently, because it had become too “American.”
So, while Americans are often ridiculed for calling the world's most popular sport "soccer", the reason we don't call it "football" like the rest of the world is Britain's fault. The Brits still used the term "soccer" regularly for a huge chunk of the 20th century. According to Szymanski, between 1960 and 1980, "soccer" and "football" were "almost interchangeable" in the UK.
So there you have it folks. To make it easier let’s just say that the game played with 11 a side with the objective to get the ball in the back of the net is football or soccer. The game with a quarterback and receivers attempting to get a pigskin in to the end zone is American football.
What do you think?