A new Fortnite event has reignited the eternal debate held primarily between Americans and basically every other country in the world: what does one call the game where players kick a ball with their feet?
Usually, these kinds of Americanisms get chalked up to the country’s desire to be different, or to cling to a more familiar system. Examples for this are the decision to order dates as MM/DD/YYYY or the use imperial measurements in favor of the quite reasonable metric system. With the football-soccer debate, however, there’s actually a bit more at play.
Why do Americans call the game Soccer?
Whenever Americans do something arbitrarily different, there is little justification for it beyond the fact that Americans simply like to do things their own way. At first, this seems to be the case with soccer as well. Like most strange Americanisms, soccer (the word) came to the United States from Great Britain.
During the 1800s, football started to become a somewhat popular sport on the island, but ran into one major dilemma: there were no uniform rules. Different clubs or groups could play wildly different games and each call their version “football.” Eventually, the sport got popular enough that an association was formed, appropriately called the Football Association.
The Football Association promoted their specific football rules, and the players referred to this version of the game as Association Football (they weren’t a creative bunch).
At the time, it was also popular for the English to shorten words by stripping the word down to its root and slapping an “-er” ending on it. This is how a ten pound note acquired the name “tenner” and a five pound note “fiver” and so on.
For Association Football, they took the root from Association, “soc,” and turned it into soccer. This game was then exported to the United States, and other former or existing colonies, which has since retained the name, despite the fact that many other countries have decided to revert to football instead.
Soccer in America, Football in Europe, but what is it in Fortnite?
The question remains, should this game be called football or soccer on the island of Fortnite? There are a number of ways Fortnite players can resolve this issue, some of which are more fun than others.
Fortnite was developed by an American company, which would imply at least some bias towards soccer, but the sport is much more popular among countries which know the game as football.
Fortnite players could arrange some kind of competition, perhaps on a field with a ball they could kick around, to find which name to call it by. Through this though, they would have to find a way to name the field based ball kicking sport and they would find themselves in this very spot again.
So perhaps the only responsible thing for fans of a particular sport to do, on Fortnite or otherwise, is to live and let live, and simply let fans and Fortnite players call it by whichever name they are most comfortable with.