Debate of the Issue: American or British Words


The recent World Cup game between the United States and England has reignited the debate about which country uses the correct terminology for the sport. The teams of these countries have played each other twice in the World Cup: most recently, the 2022 game ended in a 0-0 tie. Back in 1950, it ended in a tie with a score of 1-1. These unsatisfying draws don’t settle the debate concerning which of the two dialects is superior. 


American- Lev/Trev

It is up to us to prove why the American vocabulary is correct. First off, let’s examine the debate over “pitch” and “field”. A pitch could either mean the level of sound emitted, the slope of a decline, or a throw in baseball, all of which are used ubiquitously. On the other hand, the term field immediately evokes the clear image of a flat area of grass, and, whether it is maintained or unkempt, it can still be used to play soccer. Look at the debate over “boots” versus “cleats”. The term cleats broadly defines shoes that are worn in field sports–baseball, football, lacrosse, or soccer–by referring to the specialized spikes on the soles. In contrast, boots are for skiing, a hike, or something you might find on a runway at a fashion show. The British are clearly confused, as they also use boot to describe the trunk of a car. How can that make sense? Furthermore, contemplate the use of “nil” and “zero” to describe when a team gets no points. Zero is always used on the scoreboard to denote time or score and is read aloud just as it is written, whereas there is no symbol for nil. If there was, it would look like this . Clearly there is nothing there, and since there is nothing to be read, it should not be used. There remains some debate as to whether soccer players compete in “matches” or “games”. A match is something used for lighting candles on shabbat, while a game is defined as a competition between different parties, especially a competitive one. We have no earthly idea why the Brits use this terminology; they clearly got hit in the head too hard during the War of 1812.

Last and most importantly: “soccer” or “football”? We admit that “football” is the international term and the game does consist of someone putting their foot to the ball. However, there are many games that involve both a foot and a ball: American football, rugby, and kickball. The term is so vague that, for those new to the game, it doesn’t define how either the foot or the ball can be used. Take basketball for example: it involves both a ball and feet for running, but the rules are entirely different. On the other hand, although the word originated in England, soccer only brings one clear image to mind: a black-and-white-checkered ball being kicked on grass into a net. While the debate rages on over who is right, we are confident that the evidence above is sufficient to explain why the American terminology is correct. 


English – Anaya

As defined earlier, “pitching” is the throwing of a ball in baseball (or cricket over in the UK). Where is soccer played? Where cricket is often played. Considering the debate between “boots” versus “cleats”, the correct answer is clearly “boots”. As stated earlier, the worldwide definition of “cleats” refers to the spikes at the bottom of the shoes. “Boots” encapsulates everything, both the shoes and the cleats themselves. Therefore, there’s no reason to create the entirely new definition of “cleats”. “Nil” is clearly the better term to use in regards to no points– it literally means nothing. Plus, it’s not as if other sports don’t use other words to express no points. Ever heard of the word “love” in tennis? Besides, “one-nil” rolls off the tongue much better than one-zero ever could. Moreover, regarding  the “match” vs. “game” controversy. As already stated, a game is defined as a competitive sport. Football is a game. Basketball is a game. How can a game also refer to the specific event of football? It makes no sense; you have to differentiate between the sport itself and a round of it. Therefore, “match” clearly wins. 

Onto the infamous “soccer” vs. “football” debate. It would make sense that the country that invented a sport would have control over its nomenclature, right? Football was invented in England in 1863. England, like pretty much the rest of the world, refers to the sport as football or variants of it. There is a conflict of interest in the US, given the existence of American football. However, since only the US plays the sport, it is clear what the majority opinion is here. To those insisting on calling the sport “soccer” out of American patriotism: consider that the term actually comes from England. There are plenty of other football-related terminology debates that undoubtedly favor the UK. Do I even have to bring up the fact that the vast majority of the world uses these terms? Why can’t the US just play the game like everyone else without trying to be different?

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