Snobby About Saying "Football"

I'm on the twitterz, and on it I say remarkable things all the time.

Yesterday I posted
Watching Brazil v Argentina. Said I was watching "football". Wife is mocking me mercilessly. I respect that. 
People seemed to enjoy that. I was told to stay strong (not to call you out, Mr. Wolff, I was simply reminded by your tweet that I'd been wanting to do this rant). Football, as in soccer, is the true sporting faith. Futbol para todos!

But actually it was just an absent-minded linguistic slip; I'd been watching the match in Portuguese.

I believe that soccer is the most structurally flawed, least sporting, and most corrupt of the major codes of football. I enjoy watching long as their aren't too many players falling down and feigning injury. That's right, that hackneyed old accusation.

And by the way, you heard me correctly. I said "of the major codes of football". Insisting that soccer in the only true "football" is provincial, uncharitable, and ignorant of history.

Football had just sort of existed in many and varied ways for centuries as competitions between towns throughout Europe and Britain. These competitions were sometimes played in fields, sometimes on the roads between the villages, and sometimes in the square. They involved violence, mayhem, the occasional death, and often the use of hands. Rules were highly regionalized.

In the 18th and 19th century young lads started codifying the games at their public (read "private") schools. What we call soccer and others call football is actually Association football. People act like it came first, formed completely, and then a couple of rugby players messed with the fully formed rules. Not the case.

I have no problem using Association football as a sort of pure, archetypal version of the game, in a frame-of-reference kind of way. But an insistence on "futbol" as the only true football ignores the hoary and high origins of other codes that have origins that outdate records (Gaelic football would be such a one).

Let's see...major football codes...there's Association football, Rugby union football, Rugby league football, Gaelic football, International rules football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, and American football. All sports that, to one degree or another, involve kicking goals with the foot.

Association football is overwhelmingly the most popular. But don't come to me with with this "only real football" nonsense. And if Americans want to call their game football, well, given how it evolved, that only makes sense.

How 'bout we enjoy some photos from these major codes of football, more or less in order of most-foot-use?

Also, found this sweet website run by the author of The Same Old Game: The True Story of the Origins of the World's Football Games.


  1. Seeing the Edmonton Eskimos in there warms the cockles of my expatriate-Canadian heart.

    1. I have a soft spot for the Eskimos. I lived for a year there, went to Highlands Junior High, went to a few Eskimo games, and worshiped at the Edmonton Community Worship Hour with all the black American players. It was a strange but wonderful time.

  2. From what I understood, the term football came from the game being played on your feet. This differentiates it from other sports, like polo, where they game is played on horseback.


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