In the world outside of North America football is a game played with the feet with the object of kicking, with the feet, a ball into a goal. Americans call this soccer. In North America football is a game played by combinations of body armour intent on inflicting as much pain, injury and damage on each other as possible. Periodically a pointy thing gets carried or thrown over a line which creates all kinds of exuberance on the field and in the stands but primarily in the parking lot where the real fans are watching the game on TV, barbecuing and getting drunk in preparation for the drive home. The world calls this American Football. Why the discrepancy?
I'm glad you asked.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago a Scottish shepherd was doing what he did best - disemboweling a sheep. He tore out its stomach, filled it with all the bits that civilized people, including cannibals, disdain and took it home to the wife. She took one look at it and her eyes glazed over with a look that in Scotland passes for devotion, love and a wee bit of lust. "Hoots, Hamish, laddie, that's an awfa fine haggis ye hiv there. W'ill hae a braw bricht daenner the nicht." In translation the wife was found to have remarked, "Hamish darling, that is an awe inspiring example of Scottish traditional gastronomy. We will indeed be dining on the finest cuisine this evening."
The shepherd returned to his work station looking for any left overs to nibble on whilst awaiting his wife's cookery to be completed. He discovered that his dogs had completed the disemboweling process by removing the bones from the unfortunate sheep and all that was left was a pile of skin and wool. In disgust, he rolled the mess up into a ball and booted it over into his neighbour's yard. The neighbour had no need for a ball of skin and wool so he booted it back. Voila! Football was born.
After all their exertions together, it was almost unavoidable that the two neighbours get together for haggis dinner and a few drams of 21 year old single malt whisky. During après dinner discussions the men realized that they were onto something big. Kicking bits of sheep around was a natural for a world sport. As the single malt got scarcer and scarcer the men began to see the vast potential for their bits of sheep. The World Cup, an international tournament open to the whole world and watched by billions, was obvious. To pull it off would require, among other things, the invention of television, the discovery of South America and a lot of sex.
The quandary that they faced was how to move their game 'fitba' (translation: football.) from a remote Scottish hillside to the world stage. There was only one answer: The English. It is well known in the UK that if you put a pack of Welshmen together you end up with a choir, a bunch of Scots, a football game, a troupe of Irishmen, a pub brawl and a collection of Englishmen, a committee. The shepherds wandered off to England with their 21 year old single malt which soon attracted enough Englishmen to form a committee. It went to work immediately. Plans were made for the world to be discovered and the British Empire institutionalized. James Logie Baird and Alexander Graham Bell were told to get out of Scotland and get televisions and telephones underway. Finally, to stimulate interest in green environmental causes, the Dodo was decreed to become extinct.
Everything was going great and according to plan and a lot of single malt whisky was being consumed. Happiness reigned. Unfortunately there was a combination fly in the ointment/spanner in the works. The English educational elite could not figure out that FOOTball was played with the FEET. They kept picking the ball up. Rugby Polytechnical High Academy was a revered institution of learning in England. It gave its name to the English version of football, which, of course had nothing to do with FOOTball. In fact the game was called Rugby Football to commemorate both the school and the game's Scottish roots. The ball became pointy and the players carried it. The game then rapidly moved across the Atlantic to the Americas where it fell victim to American ingenuity. The Americans had just finished fighting the Redcoats and did not trust anyone or anything that uttered noises like 'jolly-ho' or 'chap'. When the English challenged them to a game of rugby they put their heads together and created 'The American Way.' They discovered that there was nothing in the rules to disallow them from dressing and behaving like battle tanks. So they did. The game took place and a week later the last of the English players were released from hospital and the newly liberated American colonies celebrated a great victory. History was made and American Football and The American Way became part of American folklore.
From that day on in North America there was football, rugby football and Scottish football. In the rest of the world there was football, rugby football and American football. Americans are unique among the peoples of the globe in that they have landed on the moon, used nuclear bombs and done many other great things. However, their Achilles heel is their spelling. They can photograph universes billions of light years away, they can warm the globe and melt ice caps but they cannot spell. For example plough becomes plow and gaol is jail in America. Spelling 'Scottish' was a major challenge. They started out well and got the first letter S, then they got a bit mixed up with the next two letters. Instead of CO they got OC. Then they basically went to hell in a hand basket and TTISH became CER.
Now you know why the world plays football and America plays soccer.