“American football”

ImageI meant to note a Britishism uttered on my favorite television show, The Simpsons, a few of weeks ago. I figure that two days after the Super Bowl is about the right time! In the words of the recap on Celebrity Cafe:

Lisa emerges in the kitchen with a book titled “Pretending to Like Football” by Mrs. John Madden. Lisa dishes out a fact about “American football” before Bart interrupts her saying that it’s not “American” football; it’s just football. Lisa rubs it in that Milhouse invited her to the “American” football game instead of Bart. And Bart tattles on Lisa to Marge.

Congrats to the Seattle Seahawks side and their supporters for a brilliant match.

Lisa emerges in the kitchen with a book titled “Pretending to Like Football” by Mrs. John Madden. Lisa dishes out a fact about American football before Bart interrupts her saying that it’s not “American” football; it’s just football.

Lisa rubs it in that Milhouse invited her to the “American” football game instead of Bart. And Bart tattles on Lisa to Marge.

Read more at http://thecelebritycafe.com/feature/2013/11/simpsons-recap-labor-pains#1w1VrtCrQvlwo4Lw.99

Lisa emerges in the kitchen with a book titled “Pretending to Like Football” by Mrs. John Madden. Lisa dishes out a fact about American football before Bart interrupts her saying that it’s not “American” football; it’s just football.

Lisa rubs it in that Milhouse invited her to the “American” football game instead of Bart.

Read more at http://thecelebritycafe.com/feature/2013/11/simpsons-recap-labor-pains#1w1VrtCrQvlwo4Lw.99

Lisa emerges in the kitchen with a book titled “Pretending to Like Football” by Mrs. John Madden. Lisa dishes out a fact about American football before Bart interrupts her saying that it’s not “American” football; it’s just football.

Lisa rubs it in that Milhouse invited her to the “American” football game instead of Bart.

Read more at http://thecelebritycafe.com/feature/2013/11/simpsons-recap-labor-pains#1w1VrtCrQvlwo4Lw.99

Lisa emerges in the kitchen with a book titled “Pretending to Like Football” by Mrs. John Madden. Lisa dishes out a fact about American football before Bart interrupts her saying that it’s not “American” football; it’s just football.

Lisa rubs it in that Milhouse invited her to the “American” football game instead of Bart.

Read more at http://thecelebritycafe.com/feature/2013/11/simpsons-recap-labor-pains#1w1VrtCrQvlwo4Lw.99

Lisa emerges in the kitchen with a book titled “Pretending to Like Football” by Mrs. John Madden. Lisa dishes out a fact about American football before Bart interrupts her saying that it’s not “American” football; it’s just football.

Lisa rubs it in that Milhouse invited her to the “American” football game instead of Bart.

Read more at http://thecelebritycafe.com/feature/2013/11/simpsons-recap-labor-pains#1w1VrtCrQvlwo4Lw.99

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20 responses to ““American football”

  1. Well, yes. American football. The whole of the rest of the planet knows that Football is what can also be called Soccer. Then there is Rugby football (Union and League), Australian Rules football….

  2. I think “soccer” is a corruption of “association” the significance being soccer is short for “association football” so I think Bart could be right???

  3. From the perspective of the UK I wonder if ‘American football’ could be a derogatory term that applies to any game heavily interrupted by commercials.

    • So, would that include cricket?

      • Actually, the commercial breaks in cricket on Sky TV are some of the shortest on UK television. Barely time for a single add if they do it at the end of an over, a bit more when there’s a wicket.

    • Rosalind Mitchell

      That would seem rather unfair. Baseball is regularly interrupted by ads too but this cricket-loving Limey rather likes baseball. Like most British people, when I say ‘football’ without qualification I mean association football, the dominant winter (and most of the rest of the bloody year these days) sport. Go into a pub most evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday and the screen in the corner, or the giant screen on the wall, will be showing association football more often than not. “Soccer” is indeed used in Britain, and yes, it originated here, but isn’t much used. Its origin is in the public (ie private) schools in the 19th century and has a whiff of gentlemanly amateurism about it. The gentlemanly amateurs of the early days of the game were swept aside by the gritty cotton-mill workers of Blackburn and Preston, who most definitely played ‘football’ and eventually formed the Football League. Other football variants are known by a qualifier, even in those areas – South Wales, the Scottish Borders, the town where I live – where either of the two forms of rugby football are played. (The Welsh word for ‘rugby’ is ‘rygbi'; association football is ‘pêl-droed’ officially, which literally means foot-ball. Most Welsh-speaking followers of Cardiff City or Swansea just call it football.)

      Calling a variant with only a minority following ‘American football’ after where it’s played mostly is no more derogatory than ‘Aussie Rules’ or ‘Gaelic Football’).

      Having said which, I’ve never really seen the point of American Football, since there’s nothing going on for most of the time. Compare its closest relative this side of the Pond, Rugby League. In RL there’s a lot of physical contact (without helmets and padding) but if the ball goes out of play another ball is quickly thrown on and play is continuous; no constant pauses for breath!

  4. “Soccer” seems to have an upper class derivation from the British universities and public schools (UK sense) in the nineteenth century, where Rugby rules were also known as “rugger”. As football became a more working class interest through the working men’s clubs, the term soccer seems to have become disliked as being rather posh.

    • “Soccer” did not become stigmatized in BrE until the 1994 World Cup was held in the USA (England failed to qualify…)

      • Well, I recall having a conversation about it way back in the seventies. (Someone thought that the term soccer referred to a school ground version where you marked the goal posts using your socks, but we all know it’s jumpers for goal posts.) And when I got interested in American football in the eighties, I wouldn’t dare use the word soccer in front of work mates who were football fans. (I’m not a fan of association football, it brings back too many memories of standing in the rain in a muddy field at school being hit by a hard lump of leather.)

  5. There was a very long discussion of soccer versus football (in BrE), or actually a few of them, elsewhere on this blog. I believe all the salient derivations and points were made there.

    The main reason I did this post was to highlight the typical brilliance of Simpsons writers in having Lisa use the phrase “American football.” If any living person uttered that phrase in the U.S., he or she would be looked at with utter incomprehension.

  6. A few days ago, I got told off by my nine-year-old next door neighbo(u)r for referring to “ice hockey”.

  7. American football: Rugby played by men dressed in quilts and motorbike helmets.

  8. No such confusion surrounds those other great American sports, netball and rounders.

  9. @ Tim
    Do you mean the netball that was derived from basketball, the game invented by a Canadian? ;-)

  10. It’s just as well that the Vince Lombardi Trophy is not in the form of a cup. Otherwise, the deserved new World Champions, the Seattle Seahawks, would have been presented with the World Cup.

  11. If Brits refer to “American Football” it is usually dismissively: we invented both the round ball (1863) and oval ball (1823) variants and “American Football” is just a version of Rugby Football played by former colonials.
    The term “American Football” is also regarded as an oxymoron: how can you call a game “foot ball” when players throw the ball to each other?

  12. Also in the UK it’s ‘footie’.

    In France ‘le foot’.

    What type of foot ball game ‘football’ describes depends on the game predominant in the popular mind, rather than a definitive name for a particular variety.

    Saying American together with Football in the US would be redundant, but necessary in the UK and elsewhere.

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