If you're like me, and some million-odd-or-so other people in the US today, you're probably spending this morning mentally preparing yourself for this afternoon's World Cup round of 16 battle between a highly talented Belgium squad and our little rag-tag group of "I believers": the US mens soccer team (USMNT).
Admittedly, Belgium is only a slight favorite over the USMNT, but this works better if we're all in the underdog spirit; so bear with me.
Additionally, if you're like me, you've probably stumbled upon more than your fair share of inspirational YouTube videos saluting our team. And, if you're brave enough to venture your eyes into the moral void known as the "YouTube comments section", you've probably noticed a handful of worldly people chastising us for calling their beloved football, soccer.
Until today, common courtesy was to bow to their supreme intellect; admit defeat, and call ourselves ignorant for using the "S"- word. But I propose we say "no more" to them, friends. I call on you to not go quietly into the football purists' night. Do not fold after the second IPA to the hipster in the Liverpool jersey and his arguments against the ugliness of the word soccer.
Today, my friends, we celebrate our Independence Day (three days early).
It is time, once again, to step out of the hold of the British and claim the word soccer proudly. As a nation, we have come a long way in our short history of love for "the beautiful game", and we deserve, no, are compelled, to wear the term soccer as our own unique badge of honor.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people will gather en masse in cities across the US to watch the USMNT play in a round where only 15 other countries in the world made it to. Today, one of the fastest growing supporter groups in the world, the American Outlaws, will be in Brazil cheering on our team. Today, thousands of children on summer vacation, a whole new generation of future stars, will be sitting around their TVs, falling in love with...soccer.
But what is it about the term soccer that gets Europeans all tight in the knickers? It's not like the word is some made-up gibberish; it actually should be taken as a compliment to the Europeans that we here in America acknowledge the original ambassadors of the game.
Soccer is a word invented by the British. In fact, some theorize that "soccer" was even around before the use of the word "football". However, despite the term soccer being invented in Great Britain, and originally appreciated, its popularity there actually declines in proportion to its rise in popularity here in America.
Apparently, now that we have taken the word and rubbed it in some American barbecue sauce, the British don't want it anymore; which is fine, we'll take it and wash it down with some whiskey.
But even from a common sense, non-emotional standpoint, our choice to call the sport soccer makes perfect sense. After all, we in America already have our own version of football, and that sport and its popularity aren't going anywhere.
In other words, to call soccer "football" in America, or even "European football" would cause confusion in our country. Football, the game with pads and touchdowns, is well too established here, and to say "hey, dad, the football game is on" in the US would cause your pops to come running into the living room with a beer in one hand and a Colts foam finger in the other.
Plus, here in America, "European football" harkens us back to the days of a failed experiment by the NFL.
Meaning, we in the US were, and definitely are now, really left with no choice but to call the game soccer. It's the word we have used to describe the game ever since it came over to America, and its popularity is still too young to call it a name that would confuse it with a much bigger, and more popular, sport here in the US.
We thought adopting the word soccer, a term rooted in European culture, would be a nice second choice and a friendly nod to the inventing region of the game (although the invention of soccer is up for debate as well). But since everyone outside of the US still wants to bash us for using the term soccer, I guess, to them, there's nothing left to say but enjoy watching the USMNT play today, and I hope your team (Spain, England, Italy and others) made it back home safely after losing.