SOWPODS represents a combination of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary(OSPD) and the Official Scrabble Words (OSW), the former British word source. As of January 2003 all British clubs and tournaments officially use the OSW-I, or Official Scrabble Words, International, which is now equivalent to SOWPODS. In other words, the British and most of the Scrabble game-playing world use SOWPODS on a regular daily basis. However, North Americans, along with only a couple of other regions, continue to use a different word source.
Many people believe North Americans are now at a major disadvantage at International events, particularly at the World Scrabble Championship. Why? Because we have to study SOWPODS if we want to continue to do well in these tournaments, yet we have to "forget" or compartmentalize these +25,000 extra words in order to continue to do well at our own North American tournaments.
It took the British 10 years to decide to adopt SOWPODS. It took Australia a few years less.
NSA players, however, have voted thus far that it is not in the best interests of the vast majority of players to introduce 25,000 new words to them in order to save 30 or so players the time and effort of trying to either forget the OSW or keep the two word sources compartmentalized in their minds. Many of these "British" English words have been obsolete for hundreds of years and can't be found in any American word source. One argument used against SOWPODS is that it will be more difficult to increase the NSA membership if we add so many unusual words to the already large vocabulary that new players must absorb in order to feel comfortable and competitive in NSA clubs and tournaments. Others say that only a small critical number of extra words are needed to get to that "comfort" or "competitive" level.
The NSA is not advocating either choice. However, since their survey showed that there were at least a few hundred pro-SOWPODS advocates among their tournament players, they have agreed to give these players a voice on their website to espouse their views, as well as the occasional rebuttal from anti-SOWPODS proponents.
SOWPODS is an acronym derived from anagramming OSW and OSPD.