Thursday, July 01, 2010

For the last time -- it's soccer

It was a sad end last weekend to the US's glory run into the knockout stages of the World Cup. The US team generated amazing amounts of excitement Stateside; the game against Ghana was the most-watched soccer game in US history. But alas, it was not to be.

That's OK, though, because I can point to another victory for Americans that took place off the field and appears to have been won last year, upon the publication of the book Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the US, Japan, Australia, Turkey — and Even Iraq — are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport.

I wrote more about the book (and made the following point) here, if you're interested (in short, the book is worth reading).

It was penned by Financial Times sports columnist Simon Kuper and sports economist Stefan Szymanski, both of whom are bona fide Englishmen (or at least British citizens). On the subject of whether or not the game should be referred to as "soccer", these Englishmen write (emphasis my own):

"At this point, let's agree to call the global game 'soccer' and the American game 'football.' Many people, both in America and in Europe, imagine that soccer is an American term invented in the late twentieth century to distinguish the game from gridiron. Indeed, anti-American Europeans often frown on the use of the word. They consider it a mark of American imperialism. This is a silly position. 'Soccer' was the most common name for the game in Britain from the 1890s until the 1970s. As far as one can tell, when the North American Soccer League brought soccer to the Americans in the 1970s, and Americans quite reasonably adopted the English word, the British stopped using it and reverted to the word football."

I think we can safely say the case is closed on that debate.