Soccer is called football in Europe and the UK. It is called soccer here and football is called, well, football. Due to some nasty letters to the editor recently, I thought I’d take it upon myself to explore this subject.

Let’s start with the names. In soccer, you can use your feet or your head to guide the ball. Because the ball is normally moved using a foot, we arrive at the term ‘football’. Pretty clever, these Europeans, eh? In Canadian or American ‘football’, you have three or four chances to move the ball, only one of which might involve using your foot. You don’t necessarily have to punt on third or fourth down. Because of the possibility you might punt, the game is called ‘football’. Huh? If you didn’t already know, there’ a whole store dedicated to soccer by the name of TIAS.

American football grew out of English style rugby, which is called rugby not football. Apparently, rugby rules were too complicated for the Americans so they changed them and added a few (?) pounds of padding to protect their precious bodies. The NFL didn’t appear on the scene until some 30 or 40 years after rugby was brought to North America and somehow rugby went from rugby to football with its chances of the ball contacting an actual foot being lowered to 25% at best.

A lot of American football fans swoon at the idea of players weighing 275 – 300 lbs. putting on all sorts of shoulder pads, hip protectors, cleats (different ones for grass and astroturf), special helmets, jocks, etc. and going out to play for 10 minutes before the other line takes over to provide offence or defence, as required.

Soccer fans swoon when their favourite player goes the distance, playing both offence and defence, of 90 minutes dressed in shorts, shin pads and a cup.

Gee, I wonder which sport is harder to play?

I admit that I am prejudiced towards soccer. Coming from a European background with a father who played semi-pro soccer, I guess it’s a no-brainer. I also played some soccer in my time and believe you me, I think I would rather have played football. At least I would have had some padding and the chance to catch my breath and recuperate while the other line was out there. Fifteen minutes of a half-time breather in soccer just didn’t do it for me.

My wife is an avid soccer fan and refers to football players as ‘girly-boys’. I try to argue with her, put she has a hell of a good point. I’ve gotten pix in my e-mail showing legs of soccer players broken with bones sticking wide out, and it hurts me just to look at them. I retired from soccer myself after cracking three ribs. Football players go on the DL when their manicures aren’t to their liking.

How do you argue against something like that?