| AUSTIN, Texas, July 1
AUSTIN, Texas, July 1 Fixtures have nothing to
do with plumbing, kit means uniform, and clean sheet is a
shutout. The World Cup in Brazil has been forcing American fans
to learn a whole new sports vocabulary.
With interest in soccer at new highs in the United States,
Americans face a new way of speaking about the sport due to a
preponderance of British English in broadcasts, which has
filtered down to local TV.
The main broadcasters of the World Cup in America, ESPN and
ABC, have British commentators, while the U.S. anchors on ESPN's
flagship Sports Center wrapup show use terms such as "match",
"pitch" and "nil" without fear of offending local sensibilities.
Americans, well aware of the long-standing,
"soccer-football" word divide, have been forced in the past few
weeks to decode terms such as "boots", what players have on
their feet, and "fixtures", which are the schedule.
"The matches sound better when a British guy is announcing.
You can figure out what they are saying by watching," said
Austin specialty sandwich merchant Lucky Sibilla.
Brilliant is a popular way in British English to describe a
well-executed sports play. For example, Uruguay forward Luiz
Suarez scored two brilliant goals against England before he bit
an Italy defender in their next match and got a nine-match ban.
Some terms are self-explanatory. When the score goes from
1-0 to 1-1, "an equaliser that brought the match level" makes
When a player strikes a hard shot into the goal, and the
British announcer says "What a cracker," that comment is about
the quality of the kick and has nothing to do with a salted
rectangle holding a slice of cheese. A "howler" is a terrible
error, unless a lonely wolf enters the pitch.
Some language is faintly familiar. Extra time would be
called overtime in U.S. football, a dive would be called a flop
on a basketball court, and overcooked means overdone.
However, concepts such as time and perspective may be a
little more difficult for U.S. sports fans to grasp.
Basketball fans used to clocks that count down to the tenth
of a second are challenged to comprehend the fuzzy math of
injury time. National Football League fans used to precision may
be yelling for the replay official to correct an obvious howler
from a referee.
There is one British term Americans sports fans may wish to
import - describing an unsportsmanlike act as being "cynical".
After all, what better word is there to describe a player
who dives on an overcooked cross just looking for a penalty in
the waning minutes of injury time to break open a nil-nil match?
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Gregorio)