Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby RyanChristiansen » Sun May 23, 2021 9:22 am

Some heavy thoughts on a Sunday morning...

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "semi-professional" was coined in 1910 by Baseball Magazine. At the time, the magazine noted how "the despised semi-pros were drawing big crowds." Clearly, by using the adjective "despised" to describe semi-pro teams and leagues, the magazine wanted the term "semi-pro" to carry a derogatory connotation. But really, using the adjective "despised" was simply piling on, because the prefix "semi" means "to some extent" or "partially" or "having the characteristics of" something. For good or naught, baseball's sportswriters wanted to protect the status of the major leagues, and so they used language to separate and diminish other teams and leagues.

During that same period of time, in football, the word "professional" was a dirty word. Football sportswriters who wanted to protect the status of college football used the word "professional" to denigrate non-collegiate teams and leagues. But it wasn't the "professional" nature of those teams per se that they were concerned about. Instead, they were concerned about "professionalism," the act of college football players selling their skills to non-collegiate teams, which somehow demeaned the purity of the "amateur" nature of the college sport. Curiously, a similar concern arose in the early days of baseball, when team managers complained about the rising "professionalism" in the sport (teams paying players and players wanting to be paid), which arose out of the practice of teams paying "ringers" under the table to play for teams in important contests, sometimes for promotional purposes.

(Note how from the very beginning, those who wanted to make money off of sports, whether it be team owners or sportswriters [i.e. promoters], pushed back against the idea that an athlete should be paid.)

To this day, sportswriters continue to diminish athletes who are NOT paid to play (athletes who, in fact, PAY to play for love or dreams, or what have you) by continuing to use the word "semi-pro," which carries a connotative, derogatory meaning, even if some people don't want it to. Those who promote "semi-pro" athletics like to think they can somehow elevate the word through hard work, but there will always be those sportswriters who will use "semi-pro" to purposely denigrate the sport.

Perhaps we need a better word than "semi-professional."

Another word that has been used to describe athletic teams is the "club." The definition of a club is "an association of persons for some common object usually jointly supported and meeting periodically." Synonyms for "club" include "guild" and "fraternity." It would be more accurate to say, "He played club football for the Minneapolis Warriors." Doesn't the word "club" better describe what everyone on the team is trying to accomplish? They are a fraternity of men--in fact, a guild, of sorts--and football is their craft.

Didn't "professional" football start out as "club football" in Pennsylvania and Ohio? Didn't some of the early American Professional Football Association (early NFL) teams more resemble clubs than businesses?

Club Football
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby RichardBak » Sun May 23, 2021 9:36 am

Oxford is way off base (bad pun intended). I've been researching the origins of baseball in Detroit for years, and the term "semi-professional" was in common use locally as early as 1876.

Now, defining semi-pro or coming up with an alternative word are different matters.
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby RyanChristiansen » Sun May 23, 2021 9:52 am

RichardBak wrote:Oxford is way off base (bad pun intended). I've been researching the origins of baseball in Detroit for years, and the term "semi-professional" was in common use locally as early as 1876.

Now, defining semi-pro or coming up with an alternative word are different matters.


Oxford will be the first to tell you that their first-used notes aren't the final word on things because they haven't looked at EVERYTHING. They depend on folks like you to let them know when a word was used earlier. :D
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby Reaser » Mon May 24, 2021 3:02 pm

I watched high school aged teenagers play in a "club football" game last night. "Club Football" is or is going to be taken -at least as a placeholder name- by the AAU-type high school football.

Club Football was being sold all last night as the next evolution from 7-on-7. Which all the 7-on-7 clubs, performance/training centers that run 7-on-7 teams, etc., have got bored of. After many years of trying to sell 7-on-7 as "real football" (it's not) or as the future of the sport and so on, they're realizing now they can make more money by having actual 11-on-11 real football games. So, club football.

Internet stream sold for $10, at least a couple hundred bought it. Packed house at the field (a high school stadium) so a couple thousand in attendance. For something they planned 8 days before they had the game. They expect spring/summer to be less about 7-on-7 and the camp circuit a few years from now and more about club football.

So probably wouldn't work for a "semi-pro" name change since it's the placeholder name for training centers who are now hosting real football games with high school aged kids, in May.
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby JeffreyMiller » Mon May 24, 2021 4:31 pm

Oh please ...
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby Bryan » Wed May 26, 2021 8:56 am

JeffreyMiller wrote:Oh please ...


Do you prefer "half-soldier"?

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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby JeffreyMiller » Wed May 26, 2021 12:39 pm

I prefer that we not focus on nonsense.
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby RichardBak » Wed May 26, 2021 3:46 pm

I agree. No more nonsense.

But before I go.....

Nothing-but-nonsense-dance.jpg
Nothing-but-nonsense-dance.jpg (28.63 KiB) Viewed 4028 times
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby JWL » Wed May 26, 2021 4:56 pm

JeffreyMiller wrote:I prefer that we not focus on nonsense.


Agreed. Whether that term is appropriate or not it is sort of set in stone at this point.
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Re: Suggestion: A better word for "semi-professional"

Postby Bryan » Wed May 26, 2021 5:19 pm

JWL wrote:Agreed. Whether that term is appropriate or not it is sort of set in stone at this point.


When you say "sort of set in stone", do you mean "semi-set in stone"?
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