soccer usages

Kathleen E. Miller millerk at NYTIMES.COM
Thu Oct 24 20:56:42 UTC 2002

At 12:40 PM 10/24/02 -0400, you wrote:
>A goal is something that you are trying to attain.  You don't
>guard your own goal.  Your goalie stands in front of the other team's goal.

This is semantically interesting, I think. I'm not sure if I am missing the
original point. But common usage seems to sway the exact opposite
direction. Just to make sure I wasn't "misunderstanding" I asked one of our
editors at the magazine who used to edit the sports page (And has written a
book titled "The Death of Hockey") and this is what he had to say. Calling
me on many things but backing me up on the "our goal" thing.

"First off, "goalie" is really hockey only ("goaler", if you're a Canadian
of 60 or older, is also acceptable). It really has to be "goalkeeper" or
"keeper" if you're talking about soccer, even if you're an American,
although if you say "goalie" you're not wrong. But the first choice, and
the term that should appear more often, should always be "goalkeeper" or
Next, you would ask not "Who's on goal" but "Who's IN goal." Right? That's
just a typo in the original message, no? And the person in goal for your
team, or in the nets for your team, is your goalkeeper. He or she is
standing inside YOUR goal. I don't know where this basketball thing is
coming from, but there are no two sports more diametrically opposed in
philosophy than basketball and socccer, unless it's basketball and hockey.
So a good rule of thumb is if some principle applies in basketball, it most
certainly does NOT apply in soccer.
So the person guarding YOUR goal is YOUR goalkeeper. You're shooting for
the OTHER TEAM'S goal, and THEIR goalkeeper is defending it. You score by
getting the ball into THEIR net. If you get it into your own net, it's an
OWN GOAL ("autogol" in Spanish), and it counts for the other team.
Other points: There's no rule on this, but a lot of soccer-loving and
soccer-knowledgable Amerks find "pitch" excessively British. Like, when we
mean soccer shoes, we don't say "boots", do we? I don't think we have to
import every Britishism for soccer, er, football. That'd be right naff,

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