Sunday, 28 June 2015

How widespread are pejoratives?

Although it is only recently that I have browsed and browsed for pejorative terms for soccer and gridiron used by fans of the other sport, an old memory has over the past few weeks made me feel as if there is some sympathy among the soccer- and the gridiron-watching publics for these pejorative words. When I used to look at weekly charts by one Nigel Jones, I recall he said this of Rod Stewart’s ‘You’re in My Heart’:
#7: Rod Stewart — You’re In My Heart
When it entered at number seven, this single looked a sure fire bet to hit the top, but instead it climbed to number three and spent three weeks there. It must have come as some surprise to many young lovers who‘d adopted this song as ‘their song’, when they discovered that it wasn’t about the love of a woman at all, but about Rod’s love of football (the ‘real football’ with a round spherical object, that I refuse to call the ‘S’ word). In hindsight the references such as United, Celtic were obvious as they refer to Rod’s favourite Football clubs (I wonder why he didn‘t mention Brentford though, he was once on their books).
When I read this circa 2001, I knew Nigel was contrasting “real football” with gridiron (American football) rather than with Australian Rules (which I mean when saying “football”). I assumed people who called soccer ‘football’ would use the conventional names ‘American football’, ‘Canadian football’ and ‘Australian Rules football’ for other codes, but it does dawn on me that this Nigel Jones might prefer the “h” word – though his writings do not say one way or the other. In fact, there are enough “hash” tags “#handegg” to suggest many Europeans – even those who do not post on forums – would prefer that the word ‘football’ never be used for sports other than soccer.

On the gridiron side, I don’t imagine things are that different – the view that soccer is not a real sport (because of ties and the way players supposedly fake injuries) seems from what evidence I have to be very widespread even in Australia, whose main sports are not as violent as gridiron or ice hockey. The name “football” is a symbol of prestige to both gridiron and soccer fans – something which my background cannot understand – and for this reason I feel abuse would be likely equal on both sides.

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