success breeds successIt’s Super Bowl weekend and so on this week’s listening report we take a look at some of the differences between American football and football – we have an interview with a fan of both sports David. You can listen to the report by clicking on the link below, while vocabulary support (in bold) appears at the foot of the report, while we also have a worksheet with answers here.

American football and football


Damian: Now this weekend sees the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks facing off in Arizona to decide which team will win the Super Bowl and so on this week’s main report we talk to an American colleague, David, about some of the main differences between the two forms of football. We started off by asking David what team he follows when he’s at home in the States.

David: Normally, I’d watch American football.

Damian: OK, do you have a team?

David: Yes, unfortunately my team is the Cleveland Browns; my family has cheered for them for years and they’re one of those teams that always just almost… almost makes it to the play-offs and then fails miserably.

Damian: That sounds very familiar to a Tottenham fan. He then went on to discuss one major difference between the structure of the two sports.

David: For soccer there’s something called relegation and (in) American football we have no such thing as relegation that teams… are the teams in the league all the time no matter if they win or lose; nobody gets bumped to a lower league.

Damian: What do you think? Would American sports benefit from such a thing?

David: I think maybe the fans would benefit ‘cos if you’re a fan of a team; say my family has supported the Cleveland Browns for years, the threat that they will be relegated is scary and then if they do get relegated to a lower league you can cheer for them to fight their back and you’ll feel a sense of pride – you’re invested more – instead of knowing that they’re always going to be in the National Football League, they’re always going to be in the top league. You’re a football fan, you’re a football fan for life even if they get relegated. If they go down two leagues you have to maintain that fandom. If you’re a fan for life in many American… I think all American sports, the team’s never gonna’ be relegated and maybe, I don’t know, maybe it’s a little easier to be a fan for life.

Damian: David then went on to highlight one other major distinction between the two sports.

David: Yeah, I’ve noticed football, meaning soccer, teams do not move cities. The team is the team for that city for ever. But in America in all sports, teams can be sold and move to another city overnight. I think that’s a big difference.

Damian: Are there any examples?

David: Yes, unfortunately the team my family supports the Cleveland Browns from Cleveland were sold overnight and they moved to Baltimore and the Cleveland Browns were re-named the Baltimore Ravens. And Cleveland, the city, had to buy a new team and they re-named them the Browns and unfortunately the statistics and all the winning plays and losing plays did not follow. The Cleveland Browns today started over with their statistics and players and all the old… the old team is now in Baltimore and it created a huge rivalry and a lot of bad feeling between the two cities.

Vocabulary support

facing off: Playing against

the Super Bowl: The final match of the American football season (this season is the 49th)

bumped to a lower league: Relegated

invested: Involved

National Football League: Here referring to American football

all the winning plays and losing plays did not follow: Here David is talking about the history of the club

started over: To begin again

If you want to know more about a particular area of football language leave a comment below. You can also subscribe here to receive our selection of football clichés and of course you can check out our huge list of football vocabulary here.

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2014-2015Episode 27