Jun 19, 2014 3:35 AM GMT
A New York Times article from Oct. 22, 1905, used the term “Socker” in the headline.
NYT: “It seems a thousand pities that in reporting Association football matches The New York Times, in company with all the other newspapers, should persistently call the game ‘socker,’ ” the writer, one Francis H. Tabor, said in The Times. “In the first place, there is no such word, and in the second place, it is an exceedingly ugly and undignified one.” That was in 1905, and it was proof that the perennial debate on the topic of “What is America’s problem?” began not in this World Cup, or in the one before that, but a full quarter of a century before there was such thing as a World Cup. Ranting irritably about American usage — only to have Americans rant right back — turns out to be almost as popular a sport as soccer (or football) itself.
The latest analysis of this issue came in a much commented-upon academic paper published recently by Stefan Szymanski, an economist who is a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan and the co-author of “Soccernomics.” In his analysis, Szymanski points out that the word soccer actually began in Britain and continued to be used there happily — right alongside “football” — until at least the 1970s, when a surge of bad temper and anti-Americanism made it virtually radioactive.
But while the two terms were apparently coexisting harmoniously abroad, the opposite was happening in America. By the early 20th century, of course, the United States already had its own kind of football, called “football.” This is a sport, foreigners like to point out, that mostly involves people doing things to the ball with their hands. But never mind that right now.