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Pictures of Completely Different Balls
Football, Soccer, and Babel
The Serious Game of Soccer--The associations sponsoring soccer around the world are among the greatest brotherhoods in the world.
It is estimated that there are about 250,000,000 professional players right now engaged in soccer. Three-fourths of all the nations in the world are avidly engaged in the game.
No other sport of any kind can compete with soccer for greatness and popularity. But America, isolated as she is by two great oceans separating her from the rest of the world, has trouble in the field of soccer, especially when it's called football.
America's Unique Embarrassment--As Americans, the USA people are often embarrassed by foreigners who ask Yankees to explain why they call one of their favorite sports "football," and why these Americans call the most popular sport in the world, known everywhere else as football, "soccer."
Americans are sometimes embarrassed by themselves when they are asked how their game of football got its name, considering the fact that most of the game consists of passing and running, rather than kicking.
How to explain these things is difficult, especially if you are an American watching a good game at the time the question is asked. An irritating remark about American football being mostly done with hands, rather than feet, is not welcome during the Super Bowl.
The Difficult Explanation of American Football--In America, there wasn't much soccer going on in former years such as the time when football came into the picture. So within the context of American sports at that time, America's football was the only major sport that did involve kicking. It's a lame excuse, but it's all they have.
Think of the other sports back then by comparison. Baseball didn't allow much kicking at all, despite the fact that aggressive players used to kick an opponent out of the way when sliding into a base. This was considered too rough for baseball. It belonged in football.
As for basketball, if a player ever kicked the ball across the wooden floor of a basketball court, he'd be subject to suspension or a fines. Again, that's football, not basketball.
What about golf? Who would kick a golf ball? Granted, there have been instances when irate golfers have thrown their golf clubs into ponds and even kicked their golf balls and stormed off the course swearing never to return. This is why the origin of the name "golf" and was a process of elimination. All the other four-letter words were already taken.
Football is different. Violence and anger are unfortunately common in American football.
Another sport, ice hockey, should be compared to American football. For two reasons, football itself, and not hockey, should bear the name "football." First, hockey players use a puck, not a ball. Second, the player's foot is enclosed in an ice skate, making it awkward for him to kick the puck.
As a result, only one American sport could be legitimately be called "football" at the time when football was invented.
But if Americans had soccer when football came along, football would have had to have been called something else. If they had the foresight to call it soccer, the rest of the world would breathe a sigh of relief in one respect, but still there would be a lot of confusion if the two sports shared the same name.