About that foot-ball….

Speaking of American football. Immigrants and foreign visitors who are for the first time introduced to the game as spectator or otherwise, often ask these obvious questions: why is it called football when the foot is very rarely used to kick the ball? Secondly: why is the ball not round?  Thirdly, why in the land of second chances do they allow 4 chances to advance the ball 10 yards? Fourth, why do Americans call European football “soccer”? A quick Google search provides answers to three of these questions. It is called “foot” ball not because of kicking the ball with one’s feet, but because the game is played on foot, as opposed to being played on horseback. Another explanation tells us that the ball is exactly one foot long (from a French Google search). The ball is not round, according to some online explanations, because in the early days the ball was inflated by the lung capacity of the players who never wanted to exhaust themselves in this way, making the ball soft and more easily handled by their paws. As for the question about “downs”, I have never been able to get an answer from any source….. The game started with 3 downs and is still played that way in Canada. Do the gladiators of the football arena need that much latitude to move the ball 10 yards? Anybody know?….. Ok, finally, why do we call the (sissy) European game “soccer”? The word apparently is a corruption of the original designation “Association” football. Those Brits shortened the word to something resembling “assoc” and adding the suffix “er’ to give the player a title (assoccer) resulting in the final corrupted word “soccer”. Then I could always ask the additional question: why are the goal posts reaching into the heavens? The sky is the limit? No wonder American football does not have a “goal keeper”.

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