Article by: Deedee Aeschliman

Photography by: Sienna Hagedorn

Out of the forty-five national teams in FIFA with English as its first or official language, forty-three teams have “football” in their organizations’ official names.  The exceptions are the United States, Canada and Australia, which instead have embraced the sport as “soccer”.  Similarly, beyond the forty-five English-speaking countries, “football” is the term used by the majority of the world when referring to the sport, with variations of course in its literal translation.  Interestingly, ISM, as an international melting pot, has been known to use both terms in regards to the same sport.

Timm and Johnny“I think it’s irrelevant what it’s called, but I can see how football makes sense,” claims senior varsity player, Timm Hartel. “After all, the sport involves a player using his feet to kick a ball. But I don’t mind either names.”  Indeed, this explanation does appear most logical.  The accepted etymology of the word football seems to originate from the action Timm described. So where does soccer come from then? Many Europeans and much of the rest of the world continue to derive patronizing amusement or become incensed by America’s insistence on using its own special word to describe the game that clearly uses a foot and a ball.

However, the adoption of “soccer” is not  crass Americanism; ironically, the British coined the term two hundred year ago.  In the latter part of the nineteenth century, the British invented the word “soccer” as a nickname to refer to “Association Football”.   Interestingly when the newly independent United States of America adopted the term soccer, it was also commonly used in Britain.  It was only in the 1980s, when the British stopped using soccer and eventually its usage declined in British publication in favor of football.  However, the term has stuck in America.  This is most likely due to America’s creation of its own variant game of rugby, known as American football.. American football now refers to a totally different sport.

Captain of the football/soccer varsity team, Johnny McArtor, adheres to his traditional American upbringing.  “I grew up calling it soccer, and it stuck with me,” he states. “I never really thought about why it’s called soccer; it just became a habit.”

Regardless of what people personally prefer to call the game, the football/soccer players of ISM, in general, are much more adaptable to both uses of the word.  “I’m flexible; I switch around [the terms] depending on who I’m talking to,” voices the varsity center back Rafa Van Den Brink.  Likewise, senior player Maddie McCormick proclaims, “I really don’t have a preference.”

ISM’s diversity and acceptance of cultural differences may be the reason that there is little antagonism regarding this subject.  The eternal debate continues, but in the end “football” and “soccer” are just different titles that various cultures have used to address the exact same construct.  Ultimately, the two names refer to the one sport that we all love.

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