What I don’t know about sport is a lot, but one thing I do know is this little factoid — and now is the right time to pull it out.
The question has been asked — how can we Australians expect to do well at a sport that we don’t even call by it’s proper name? How can we expect to be treated with anything but disdain by the rest of the world?
I remember Wil Anderson used to have a bit of material that dealt with that question. And, to be fair, he posed the question in a much more concise and less cumbersome way than I did, which enabled him to better deliver subsequent tags. He was talking about the ball sport that we in Australia call ‘soccer’, that the rest of the world calls ‘football’. (As it turns out, in the 1920s in Australia it was called ‘soccer football’ apparently; some later that century, it would have raised the question, ‘what is? Soccer, or football?’)
Fact is, we don’t really call it by a different name. Both names are abbreviations of the sport’s proper title. Its English name, in the UK at least, is ‘Association Football’. I don’t know why, but we’ve chosen a name based on the abbreviation of ‘association’ — ‘soccer’. Whereas in the UK, they’ve chosen the second word.
The real question is — why do sports that deal with kicking balls have to be bound in collectives — leagues and unions like rugby and Australian football, and an association in the case of non-Australian football?
That’s my contribution to your next ‘talking complete and utter bollocks’ session at the pub for this World Cup season.