American football player

Discussion in 'English Only' started by squidink, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. squidink

    squidink Senior Member

    Venezuela, Spanish
    Hi, everyone.

    If I wrote a sentence about someone who plays American football and called him an 'American football player', people could think that I was referring to a football/soccer player who is American, or part of the American team. Is there any way to avoid that confusion? For example, could I write that he is an 'American-football player'? Or would that be wrong?
  2. Cagey post mod (English Only / Latin)

    English - US
    Please tell us who you are writing for. If you audience is American, it is easy. We would call him a football player if he plays American football, and a soccer player if he played what Europeans mean by football.

    If you are writing for Europeans, the answer will be different.
  3. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    Well, the only way to say "football player who is American" is American football player. Or maybe in England they might write football-player since they use hyphens more often than we do. On second thought, they'd probably have to write American American football player to show that they're not talking about soccer/European football. :D

    If you want to say "player of American football," then I'd suggest rewriting the sentence.

    Could you post the entire sentence?

    Edit: I agree with Cagey. It depends on your audience!
  4. Basil Ganglia

    Basil Ganglia Senior Member

    Bellevue, WA
    English - USA
    "American football" is used most often as a descriptor to make clear that the writer or speaker is referring to US football, as distinguished from what most of the rest of the world calls "football" (the game we Americans call "soccer").

    Accordingly, unless context indicates otherwise, when I see the phrase "American football player" I assume the writer is describing someone who plays American football.
  5. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    The thing is, we Americans almost never see the phrase "American football player" because 1) most players of American football are, of course, American, and 2) if soccer is meant and not American football, then it would say "American soccer player."

    So in fact, the only time I can imagine seeing "American football player" is when it's written by a non-American, in which case I would assume "American soccer player" is meant.
  6. scooch2007 Member

    English - US
    If you are not writing for an American audience, I think it would be best to say player of American football, but I have to agree that if you are writing towards Americans, it would be better to leave out American.
  7. looking-at-the-stars Senior Member

    California, USA
    American English
    I agree that it's difficult to think of an adjective here, but without more context, a possible (if wordy) answer could be:

    "...a football player, in the American sense of the word,..."
  8. squidink

    squidink Senior Member

    Venezuela, Spanish
    The context is outside of the US, and the sentence would be something along these lines:

    ___________ players wear helmets.

    Would it be OK to write 'American-football'? Or is 'American football' the only possible answer?
  9. Basil Ganglia

    Basil Ganglia Senior Member

    Bellevue, WA
    English - USA
    I cannot recall ever seeing "American football" used by a writer, regardless of country of origin, to refer to soccer. I can recall many instances, however, of writers, both North American or other, employing that descriptor to make clear that they were referring to US (or Canadian) football and not soccer.
  10. Basil Ganglia

    Basil Ganglia Senior Member

    Bellevue, WA
    English - USA
    I would say something such as. "Athletes playing American football wear helmets." or "Helmets are usually worn when playing American football."

    In both of those constructions it is clear that "American" is referring to the game, not the ethnic origin of the players. I also can't imagine that anyone reasonably fluent in English would interpret those sentences to mean that soccer players in the US wear helmets.
  11. squidink

    squidink Senior Member

    Venezuela, Spanish
    In the end, I think you're right. As long as the audience is composed of earthlings, they will know that the sentence refers to the American sport and not the ethnic origin of the players. Everyone knows that soccer players don't wear helmets. 'American football players' it is then.

    Thanks, everyone!
  12. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    I completely agree, if you mean "American football" by itself. However, "American football player," I still maintain, is ambiguous; and if anything, I imagine it would be written by a non-American to refer to an American soccer player (just a guess).

    But you'll notice that I also mentioned that I could hardly imagine seeing this written in the first place. I was speaking merely hypothetically.
  13. As the first BE speaker to comment on this thread, I'm surprised nobody's yet used the very common word 'footballer'.

    Over here, 'an American football player' would only mean a player of American football, a game we've heard about, but which nobody watches.

    Brad Friedl, a Premier League goalkeeper, is from America, so he's an American footballer.

  14. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    We probably haven't said footballer because we don't know it. (At least I dont.) :D
  15. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    I guess you could minimize the confusion (to the knowledgeable) by identifying the position played.

    He was the kick off return specialist on the football team.

    He played quarterback for the NY Jets.

    His excellence at tight end on the Ravens earned him a new and lucrative contract.
  16. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Indeed, but that solution will not fit the context.

    In the specific context we've been given, the risk of ambiguity is tiny.
    Grammarians will see it, normal people won't.
    American football players wear helmets.
    This sentence would not be written in the US - for reasons above.
    Is there any serious chance that a non-US reader would think this meant that US citizens playing soccer wear helmets. I think not.

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