Soccer as Mimic Warfare: A Conceptual Metaphoric Reading of Selected Football Commentary and Punditry
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Conceptual Metaphor
Mimic Warfare


The evolution of the digital media, has hugely expanded the frontiers of coverage and viewership of soccer more than any other sporting events in history. Football reportage, with its militaristic language and overtones employed to highlight the reality of football, in and out of the pitch, has come to be one of the most entertaining and engaging parts of the game. In order to capture the terrific moments in soccer pitches, arrest the attention of spectators and reflect the nuances and seriousness of the business of soccer, football commentators and pundits borrow heavily words/metaphors from other domains such as war and military conflict. Despite this unparalleled popularity it enjoys through media coverage, the language of football commentary has received little academic attention. Thus, this paper adopts Lakoff and Johnson's Conceptual Metaphor Theory to examine the use of conflict-related metaphors in football commentary and punditry. The duo propose that metaphor contains a cross domain mapping in the conceptual system to understand or think of one thing in terms of something else (Lakoff, 203). Data for the study were extracted from a corpus of the language of soccer as contained in British and Nigerian tabloids, as well as recorded matches and match reports. Content analysis was applied on 30 purposively selected military jargon often used in football commentary and punditry, to establish the fact that football is mimic warfare. The study thus recommends that careful consideration needs to be given to the language used in football reportage as heavy dependence on metaphors that seem to glorify violence and brutality might be detrimental to the welfare of the society by encouraging violence as a means of settling scores. It would be necessary for journalists to also use imagery from other domains in order to project a more balanced outlook of football game.