Why Is It Called Football

Whenever Americans say soccer in England, a discussion begins in which it is often pointed out that American football should not even be called that for practical reasons. That is, we have the idea that the word “football” comes from “foot and ball”, so it sounds more reasonable that the so-called “Soccer” is legitimate football, while the one practiced by the NFL does not have that closeness (in addition that a ball is generally round, although it would be argued that something oval is also valid).

American football - ball

Why is it called football then?

However, when reviewing the history of the names of these sports we note that in reality everything is more complex and there is no simple answer to who deserves to be called the legitimate “football”. According to Bill Murray (the sports historian, not the actor), in addition to other sources, the idea that the etymology of “football” originates from the reference to kicking a ball is false, and that the term  came to refer to multiple sports that were played “standing up”, not “with the foot”. It is noted that, while aristocrats enjoyed sports that were performed on horseback or when table games existed, “football” was a way of referring to games of lower-class people who played standing up, encompassing different types of sports. It should be noted that ball games with the feet arose from approximately 3 centuries before Christ, even developing between Greek and Roman cultures.

Soccer originated in England, it was established under the name of Association Football in 1863 along with the official rules. The name was chosen as a way to separate it from other sports in the “football” family. Therefore, when we say Soccer it is not something wrong since it refers to the original name of the sport that was established by the original Football Association.

What about American football?

College football on a tee at night

American football originated in the continent that bears his name, evolving from Association Football and Rugby. His first records are in universities with a more similar resemblance to Rugby in which the ball could not be loaded or picked up. When defining the standards in 1873, Harvard University refused to participate because they wanted the ball to be loaded. After that, the basic rules that would be maintained to this day began to be established. The sport is called Gridiron Football because of the English word “grid” and the aspect of the field. It is divided into different types, including American and Canadian, since they are played with different rules, and although it is believed that it is called Football for the initial kick or those that seek to score, it is actually because of the previously mentioned, since it is a game that is performed standing up.