Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Where I Draw The Line With Soccer Jargon

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter
I wanted to get this out before the 2010 World Cup started because this has been annoying me forever.

It makes sense that soccer jargon doesn't sound very American Englishy- the game was neither invented here nor thrives here. Given how geographically dispersed the game is, it also stands to reason that it might have a few verbal oddities too and I'm totally ok with that. At the risk of sounding too jingoistic, there is still one I cannot stand. But first I'll review the tolerable ones.

Pitch- the playing field. As in, "he was the best player on the pitch tonight." I don't know why they can't just call it a "field", but we call a baseball "field" a diamond, so I guess I can cut them some slack.

Nil- zero. As in, "his team lost 3- nil." It sounds a little Eurotrashy, and for some reason seems to be used only for soccer, but I guess I'm ok with it. Well, I'm ok when foreigners use it. I hate when American soccer fans feel obligated to say "nil" as if it ups their soccer credibility.

Match- usually it's a soccer match and not a soccer game. As a former tennis player I am ok with that because I know that in tennis you play points, games and sets, which are collectively known as a match.
Football- I wish the rest of the world called it soccer, but I must concede that calling it football makes a lot more sense than us calling our football, "football".

Here's what annoys me about soccer lexicon- when people refer to a country as plural, as in, "England are very strong right now and should advance to the finals", or, "If Argentina are really ready for the challenge, we'll see it early on."

The country, (e.g. England, Argentina) is singular. It is only one country. Conversely, their team, though it comprises several players, is still singular. The singular verb in that case is "is.". You say, "where is your shoe (singular)?" and "where are your shoes (plural)?". One may correctly say, "The players on Spain are in top form" but you can't say, "Spain are in top form".

Sadly, stupidly, maybe arrogantly, annoyingly, lamely, unfortunately, seriously-what-the-fuck-ly, this grammatical rule is repeatedly broken in an attempt to sound more soccer credible. The same a-hole who will say, "Where is my book? I have zero books. Where are your books?" will later put on a soccer jersey, and turn on the soccer match and state, "England are great. They'll win 4-nil." . And it is fucking awful.

As indicated above, I'm ok with some with some slang unique to one's sport. I don't chastise snowboarders for riding "goofy" or getting "squirrelly". It's how snowboarders talk, and that's cool. But they still have the dignity to keep the rules of grammar in tact. They don't say, "Dude, hill steep I anyway down ride it to the wall balls, bro. What? Oh no, it's ok to make my own syntax because I'm talking about a sport, bro." They know better.

With all of this crappiness (sadly) in mind, the real question is: Do I sound more learned about soccer when I make a poor, jargon-buttressed prediction like, "America are going to win the World Cup 6-nil over Argentina." or when I use non-soccer jargon but make a rational prediction. "If Tevez gets injured Argentina is not going to win 3-zero, but probably 3-1."?

Don't bother trying to answer it. It's an Ancient Chinese Riddle.

how I roll.

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