It's a Beautiful Game... / by Jonathan Fiero

But here it's just soccer.


With the World Cup coming to an end, I felt I should begin my blog discussing "the beautiful game" and why Americans will (probably) never fully accept it as a first tier sport. Arguably the biggest stigma for this game in the good ol' USA is our name for it, soccer. It still amazes me with all the technology and information at our fingertips, that the general public (other countries included) are clueless about the origins of the term soccer. The "best" of these people are those from the U.K. (because they created the name) and the obnoxious Americans that call soccer, football, because they are "real fans of the game". Most people assume it to be a second rate name created by Americans because we already had Football. However that is simply incorrect, it is a slang term that originated with the game in England.

soccer (n)

1889, socca, later socker (1891), soccer (1895), originally university slang (with jocular formation -er (3)), from a shortened form of Assoc., abbreviation of association in Football Association (as opposed to Rugby football); compare rugger. An unusual method of formation, but those who did it perhaps shied away from making a name out of the first three letters of Assoc.

While this now explains the origin of the use of the word soccer, why is this term used and why do Americans call a game played mostly with the hands football? Basically, rugby and soccer are just nicknames for two separate forms of football. Rugby happened to be more popular in the US and while the British took to calling "soccer", football, in America the same was done with rugby; along with some rule changes that make it a far more interesting and technical game than rugby itself. So there you have it, soccer is a nickname for football created by the Brits and football is the American evolution of rugby. 

With the history lesson out of the way, the question still lingers, why does no one seem to care about soccer in America? (Aside for when the World Cup is taking place of course). The past few World Cups have seen drastic rises in American interest in the sport, as every four years it seems more and more people are ditching their responsibilities to watch. (Ratings Information) I believe the reasoning for this, regardless of the conspiracy theory thoughts of Keith Ablow(See here and here - Thank You Stephen Colbert), is quite simple, soccer moms.                                                                                                              

What I mean by this is that the younger generations have been raised playing soccer and have come to truly enjoy this game. The top tier European leagues are all being broadcasted in America, including NBC Sports providing access to every BPL game played last season. So why with the astronomical growth of interest in this sport, especially in regards to the World Cup and the US men's team, does soccer still sit in the shadows of the four major sports of baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. The answer, American's like winners, and further we want, or rather need, to be the best at everything. The most coveted trophy in league soccer is found in Europe, the UEFA Champions League. Unfortunately for Americans, and the North American based MLS teams, UEFA is the Union of European Football Associations, European being the key word. So until MLS teams are allowed to compete in this prestigious tournament, American interest in soccer will remain with the World Cup, or waking up at 5am to watch the European leagues.