Comparing soccer and hockey imagery

Comparing soccer and hockey imagery
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I was listening to the end of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ latest hockey game tonight when I caught up on some recent BBC stories on the Internet. This collection of expressions in a Radio 4 essay, “End to end with 15 football phrases from around the world,” reminded me of some of the fun jargon from hockey that can bring funny images to mind while I listen to the radio.

Even the games’ names vary around the world. I’ve looked for hockey results in British papers and found what I’d call field hockey — very disorienting at first, but I did eventually find some ice hockey results that were more my speed. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears play American football to the rest of the world, while soccer’s Chicago Fire play football. Even the word “soccer” itself is a kind of nickname, short for Association football (part of FIFA, or the International Federation of Association Football).

So what’s a flamingo in the photo got to do with hockey? As I explained here in a previous post, a flamingo is what a hockey player does to get one foot and leg away from a puck headed too close to him.

The international collection of football expressions (as most of the world calls soccer) features some animal expressions that I didn’t expect to be quite so different from hockey (or ice hockey, as most of the world calls what the Blackhawks and foes play). The most striking to me is the Hungarian expression “butterfly hunter” for goaltenders. “Butterfly hunters” are flapping their hands to try to make a save. In hockey, goalies have a butterfly position — but instead of flapping their hands, hockey goalies try to cover all four corners of the net they’re defending, as if spreading their wings.

The game’s over and the Hawks have lost. I think they could use the wardrobe or control tower described in the football expressions.

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Filed under: Expressions

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks


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  • The imagery I love in sports is "love" in tennis. (I know, this is not one of the sports you were discussing, but I assume you allow for some leeway.) In tennis, love means "nothing," and has for more than a century. No one really knows why. That's why it makes for great imagery: Love may mean everything until it means nothing, and no one really knows why or what it is.

  • In reply to jnorto:

    Thanks, jnorto. Leeway definitely counts as a Word Worth Defending around here, so I do allow it.
    Actually, I've read a theory about "love" meaning nothing in tennis. The symbol for nothing, a zero, looks very much like an egg -- in French, l'oeuf (pronounced as if you're saying love with an F instead of a V in it). So the related hockey expression, "a goose-egg on the scoreboard," is just a little more specific than "l'oeuf." It also means nothing, by the way.

  • What strikes me more is that many sports are related, in that they involve territory and scoring goals. The links between rugby, association football, American football, Canadian football, and Aussie football are somewhat clearer, but basketball and hockey operate on the same principles.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yes, but it bothers me that in basketball, goaltending is a crime! In hockey, it's an art.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Goaltending seems to have been transformed into basket interference. But there seems to be a relationship between offensive basket interference and fouling the goalie. Own goal is possible in each.

  • In reply to jack:

    Own goal -- oh, you do know how to spook me, Jack. Goaltender interference is the new hockey term -- as in "let's get the goalie down and out of the way, and then score."

    There's a write-in feature on the Hawks' radio intermissions that takes all sorts of questions; if you heard one from Margaret the other night, that was me. I found out that a "one-timer" isn't something that just works once -- it's something changes from a pass into a shot all at once.

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