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Sport in the United Kingdom

Sport in the United Kingdom

МОУ Лицея “Экос”

Творческая работа по теме



Ученик 8а класса Гарбуз Максим

Учитель Горчакова Елена Георгиевна

Новоалексадровск 2007




·        THE MAIN PART

1. The social importance of sport

2. Football u Football pools

3. Rugby

4. Cricket

5. Animals in Sport

6. Racing

7. Gambling

8. Wimbledon

9. Other Sports


·        The list of literature



have I chosen such theme? Sport is supposed to be interesting

only for men, not for women. But I think it is a mistaken opinion. Sport is one of the most amusing things in the world, because of fillings, experiences, excitements connected with it. Particularly it is so when we speak about the UK.

Think of your favorite sport. Whatever it is, there is good chance that it was first played in Britain, and an even better chance that its modern rules were first codified in this country.

Sport probably plays a more important part in people’s life in Britain than it does in most other countries. For a very large number it is their main form of entertainment. Millions take part in some kind of sport at least once a week. Many millions more are regular spectators and follow one or more sports. There are hours of televised sport each week. Every newspaper, national or local, quality or popular, devotes several pages entirely to sport.

The British are only rarely the best in the world at particular sports in modern times. However, they are one of the best in the world in a much larger number of different sports than any other country (British individualism at work again). My work looks at the most publicized sports with the largest followings. But it should be noted that hundreds of other sports are played in Britain , each with its own small but enthusiastic following. Some of these may not be seen as a sport at all by many people. For most people with large gardens, for example, croquet is just an agreeable social pastime for a sunny afternoon. But to a few, it is a deadly serious competition. The same is true of the game such as indoor bowling, darts or snooker. Even board games, the kind you buy in a shop, have their national championships. Think of any pastime, however trivial, which involves some element of competition and, somewhere in Britain, there is probably a ‘national association’ for it which organized contents.

The British are so fond of competition that they even introduced it into gardening. Many people indulge in an informal rivalry with their neighbors as to who can grow the better flowers or vegetables. But the rivalry is sometimes formalized. Though the country, there are competitions in which gardeners enter their cabbage, leeks, onions, carrots or whatever in the hope that they will be judged ‘the best’. There is a similar situation with animal. There hundreds of dog and cat shows throughout the country at which owners hope that their pet will win a prize. There are a lot of such specific kinds of sport in the United Kingdom but I want to stop my thought on consideration of more widespread.



British are great lovers of competitive sports; and when they are neither playing nor watching games they like to talk about them, or when they cannot do that, to think about them. Modern sport in Britain is very different. 'Winning isn't every­thing' and 'it's only a game' are still well-known sayings which reflect the amateur approach of the past. But to modern professionals, sport is clearly not just a game. These days, top players in any sport talk about having a 'professional attitude' and doing their 'job' well, even if, officially, their sport is still an amateur one. The middle-class origins of much British sport means that it began as an amateur pastime - a leisure-time activity which nobody was paid for taking part in. Even in football, which has been played on a profes­sional basis since 1885, one of the first teams to win the FA (Football Association) Cup was a team of amateur players (the Corinthians). In many other sports there has been resistance to professionalism. People thought it would spoil the sporting spirit. May be they are right.

The social importance of sport

The importance of participation in sport has legal recognition in Britain. Every local authority has a duty to provide and maintain playing fields and other facilities, which are usually very cheap to use and sometimes even free. Spectator sport is also a matter of official public concern. For example, there is a law which prevents the televi­sion rights to the most famous annual sporting occasions, such as the Cup Final and the Derby, being sold exclusively to satellite channels, which most people cannot receive. In these cases it seems to be the event, rather than the sport itself, which is important. Every year the Boat Race and the Grand National are watched on television by millions of people who have no great inter­est in rowing or horse-racing. Over time, some events have developed a mystique which gives them a higher status than the standard at which they are played deserves. In modern times, for example, the standard of rugby at the annual Varsity Match has been rather low - and yet it is always shown live on television.

Sometimes the traditions which accompany an event can seem as important as the actual sporting contest. Wimbledon, for instance, is not just a tennis tournament. It means summer fashions, strawber­ries and cream, garden parties and long, warm English summer evenings. This reputation created a problem for the event's organizers in 1993, when it was felt that security for players had to be tightened. Because Wimbledon is essentially a middle-class event, British tennis fans would never allow themselves to be treated like football fans. Wimbledon with security fences, policemen on horses and other measures to keep fans off the court? It just wouldn't be Wimbledon!

The long history of such events has meant that many of them, and their venues, have become world-famous. Therefore, it is not only the British who tune in to watch. The Grand National, for example, attracts a television audience of 300 million. This worldwide enthu­siasm has little to do with the standard of British sport. The cup finals of other countries often have better quality and more entertaining football on view - but more Europeans watch the English Cup Final than any other. The standard of British tennis is poor, and Wimbledon is only one of the world's major tournaments. But if you ask any top tennis player, you find that Wimbledon is the one they really want to win. Every footballer in the world dreams of playing at Wembley, every cricketer in the world of playing at Lord's. Wimble­don, Wembley and Lord's are the 'spiritual homes' of their respective sports. Sport is a British export!

There are a lot of sports in Britain today and of course, there is no use in considering all of them. I try to make a short review of the most famous in the world on the one hand and unusual sports on the other hand. And the first one is the most popular game in the world:


Football is the most popular team game in Britain. The British invented it and it has spread to every corner of the world. There is no British team. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete separately in European and World Cup matches. The English and Welsh clubs have together formed a League with four divisions. The Scottish League has three divisions. The champions of the English First Division, and the Scottish Premier Division qualify to play in the European Cup competition.

British football has traditionally drawn its main following from the working class. In general, the intelligentsia ignored it. But in the last two decades of the twentieth century, it has started to attract wider interest. The appearance of fanzines is an indication of this. Fanzines are magazines written in an informal but often highly intelli­gent and witty style, published by the fans of some of the clubs. One or two books of literary merit have been written which focus not only on players, teams and tactics but also on the wider social aspects of the game. Light-hearted football programmes have appeared on television which similarly give attention to 'off-the-field' matters. There has also been much academic interest. At the 1990 World Cup there was a joke among English fans that it was impossible to find a hotel room because they had all been taken by sociologists!

Many team sports in Britain, but especially football, tend to be men-only, 'tribal' affairs. In the USA, the whole family goes to watch the baseball. Similarly, the whole family goes along to cheer the Irish national football team. But in Britain, only a handful of children or women go to football matches. Perhaps this is why active support for local teams has had a tendency to become violent. During the 1970s and 1980s football hooliganism was a major problem in England. In the 1990s, however, it seemed to be on the decline. English fans visiting Europe are now no worse in their behavior than the fans of many other countries.

For the great mass of the British public the eight months of the football season are more important than the four months of cricket. There are plenty of amateur association football (or 'soccer') clubs, and professional football is big business. The annual Cup Final match, between the two teams which have defeated their opponents in each round of a knock-out contest, dominates the scene; the regular 'league' games, organised in four divisions, provide the main entertainment through the season and the basis for the vast system of betting on the football pools. Many of the graffiti on public walls are aggressive statements of support for football teams, and the hooliganism of some British supporters has become notorious outside as well as inside Britain.

Football has been called the most popular game in the world, and it certainly has a great many fans in Britain. And now I want to mention the English terminology for football.

Association football (or soccer) is the game that is played in nearly all countries. A team is composed of a goalkeeper, two backs, three half-backs and five forwards.

Association football remains one of the most popular games played in the British Isles. Every Saturday from late August un­til the beginning of May, large crowds of people support their sides in football grounds up and down the country, while an almost equally large number of people play the game in clubs teams of every imagin­able variety and level of skill. Over the last 20 years though, the attend­ance at football matches has fallen away sharply. This is because of changing lifestyles and football hooligans about I have already written but I want to add that violence at and near the football grounds increased, there was an ever-increasing tendency for people to stay away, leaving the grounds to football fans.

After serious disturbances involving English supporters at the Eu­ropean Cup Finals in Brussels in 1985 which led to the deaths of 38 spectators, English clubs were withdrawn from European competitions for the 1985-1986 season by the Football Association. The Cup Final at Wembley remains, though, an event of national importance. Here is a drawing of a foot­ball field, or "pitch", as it is usually called.

The football pitch should be between 100 and 130 metres long and between 50 and 100 metres wide. It is divided into two halves by the halfway line. The sides of the field are called the touch-lines and the ends are called the goal-lines. In the middle of the field there is a centre circle and there is a goal at each end. Each goal is 8 metres wide and be­tween 21/2 and 3 metres high. In front of each goal is the goal area and the penalty area. There is a penalty spot inside the penalty area and a penalty arc outside it. A game of football usually lasts for one and a half hours. At half-time, the teams change ends. The referee controls the game. The aim of each team is obviously to score as many goals as possible. If both teams score the same number of goals, or if neither team scores any goals at all, the result is a draw.

The final of the football competition takes place every May at the famous Wembley stadium in London. Some of the best known clubs in England are Manchester United, Liverpool and the Arsenal. In Scot­land either Rangers, Celtic or Aberdeen usually win the cup or the championship.

Today, many people are only interested in football because of the pools and the chance of winning a lot of money.

Football pools

"Doing the pools" is a popular form of betting on football results each week. It is possible to win more than half a million pounds for a few pence.

The English have never been against a gamble though most of them know where to draw the line and wisely refrain from betting too often. Since the war the most popular form of gambling is no doubt that of staking a small sum on the football pools. (The word "pool" is connected with the picture of streams of money pouring into a com­mon fund, or "pool" from which the winners are paid after the firm has taken its expenses and profit.) Those who do so receive every week from one of the pools firms a printed form; on this are listed the week's matches. Against each match, or against a number of them, the opti­mist puts down a I, a 2 or an x to show that he thinks the result of the match will be a home win (stake on fun’s team), an away win (stake on a team of opponent) or a draw. The form is then posted to the pools firm, with a postal order or cheque for the sum staked (or, as the firms say, "invested"). At the end of the week the results of the matches are announced on television and published in the news­papers and the "investor" can take out his copy of his coupon and check his forecast.



There is another game called rugby football, so called because it originated at Rugby, a well-known English public school. In this game the players may carry the ball. Rugby football (or 'rugger') is played with an egg-shaped ball, which may be carried and thrown (but not forward). The ball is passed from hand to hand rather than from foot to foot. If a player is carrying the ball he may be 'tackled' and made to fall down. Each team has fifteen players, who spend a lot of time lying in the mud or on top of each other and become very dirty, but do not need to wear such heavily protective clothing as players of American football.

There are two forms of rugby - Rugby Union, which is strictly amateur, and Rugby League, played largely in the north, which is a professional sport. Rugby Union has fifteen players, while Rugby League has thirteen, but the two games are basically the same. They are so similar that somebody who is good at one of them can quickly learn to become good at the other. The real difference between them is a matter of social history. Rugby union is the older of the two. In the nineteenth century it was enthusi­astically taken up by most of Britain's public schools. Rugby league split off from rugby union at the end of the century. There are two versions of this fast and aggressive ball game: rugby union and rugby league. Although it has now spread to many of the same places in the world where rugby union is played (rugby union is played at top level in the British Isles, France, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand; also to a high level in North America, Argentina, Romania and some Pacific islands). Rugby can be considered the 'national sport' of Wales, New Zealand, Fiji, Western Samoa and Tonga, and of South African whites. Its traditional home is among the working class of the north of England, where it was a way for miners and factory workers to make a little bit of extra money from their sporting talents. Unlike rugby union, it has always been a profes­sional sport.

Because of these social origins, rugby league in Britain is seen as a working class sport, while rugby union is mainly for the middle classes. Except in south Wales. There, rugby union is a sport for all classes, and more popular than football. In Wales, the phrase 'interna­tional day' means only one thing — that the national rugby team are playing. Since 1970, some of the best Welsh players have been persuaded to 'change codes'. They are 'bought' by one of the big rugby league clubs, where they can make a lot of money. Whenever this happens it is seen as a national disaster among the Welsh.

Rugby union has had some success in recent years in selling itself to a wider audience. As a result, just as football has become less exclusively working class in character, rugby union has become less exclusively middle class. In 1995- it finally abandoned amateurism. In fact, the amateur status of top rugby union players had already become meaningless. They didn't get paid a salary or fee for playing, but they received large 'expenses' as well as various publicity con­tracts and paid speaking engagements.


The game particularly associated with England is cricket. Judging by the numbers of people who play it and watch it (ê look at ‘Spectator attendance at major sports’), cricket is definitely not the national sport of Britain. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, interest in it is largely confined to the middle classes. Only in England and a small part of Wales is it played at top level. And even in England, where its enthusiasts come from all classes, the majority of the population do not understand its rules. Moreover, it is rare for the English national team to be the best in the world.

Cricket is, therefore, the national English game in a symbolic sense. However, to some people cricket is more than just a symbol. The comparatively low attendance at top class matches does not give a true picture of the level of interest in the country. One game of cricket takes a terribly long time, which a lot of people simply don't have to spare. Eleven players in each team. Test matches between national teams can last up to five days of six hours each. Top club teams play matches lasting between two and four days. There are also one-day matches lasting about seven hours. In fact there are millions of people in the country who don't just enjoy cricket but are passionate about it! These people spend up to thirty days each summer tuned to the live radio commentary of ‘Test’ (= international) Matches. When they get the chance, they watch a bit of the live television coverage. Some people even do both at the same time (they turn the sound down on the television and listen to the radio). To these people, the commentators become well-loved figures. When, in 1994, one famous commentator died, the Prime Minister lamented that 'summers will never: be the same again'. And if cricket fans are too busy to listen to the radio commentary, they can always phone a special number to be given the latest score!

Many other games which are English in origin have been adopted with enthusiasm all over the world, but cricket has been seriously and extensively adopted only in the former British empire, particularly in Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and South Africa. Do you know how to play cricket? If you don't live in these countries you won't learn it at school. English people love cricket. Summer isn't summer without it. Even if you do not understand the rules, it is attractive to watch the players, dressed in white playing on the beautiful green crick­et fields. Every Sunday morning from May to the end of September many Englishmen get up very early, and take a lot of sandwiches with them. It is necessary because the games are very long. Games between two village teams last for only one afternoon. Games between counties last for three days, with 6 hours play on each day. When England plays with one or other cricketing countries such as Australia and New Zea­land it is called a test match and lasts for five days. Cricket is played in schools, colleges and universities and in most towns and villages by teams which play weekly games. Test matches with other cricketing countries are held annually.

Cricket is also played by women and girls. The governing body is Women's Cricket Association, founded in 1926. Women's cricket clubs have regular weekend games. Test matches and other international matches take place. The women's World Cup is held every four years. But There is The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and Lord's cricket ground in the United Kingdom. The MCC was founded in 1787, and is still the most important authority on cricket in the world. As a club it is exclusively male. No woman is allowed to enter the club buildings. There are special stands for members and their wives and quests.

Organised amateur cricket is played between club teams, mainly on Saturday afternoons. Nearly every village, except in the far north, has its cricket club, and there must be few places in which the popular image of England, as sentimentalists like to think of it, is so clearly seen as on a village cricket field. A first-class match between English counties lasts for up to three days, with six hours play on each day. The game is slow, and a spectator, sitting in the afternoon sun after a lunch of sandwiches and beer, may be excused for having a little sleep for half an hour.

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