Sport in the UK


                                COURSE PAPER

                        SPORT  IN  THE UNITED KINGDOM

                                                   Written by Varlamova Anna
                                                                   group 301
                                                    Checked by Makhmuryan K.

                               MOSCOW     2001




   1. The social importance of sport
   2. Football ( Football pools
   3. Rugby
   4. Cricket
   5. Animals in Sport
   6. Racing
   7. Gambling
   8. Wimbledon
   9. Other Sports
 . Questions
 . 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 peoples 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 course paper 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.
                               THE  MAIN  PART


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
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
      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
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 funs 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
      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


    The game particularly associated with England is cricket. Judging by
the numbers of people who play it and watch it (( 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.
    When people refer to cricket as the English national game, they are not
thinking so much of its level of popularity or of the standard of English
players but more of the very English associations that it carries with it.
Cricket is much more than just a sport; it symbolizes a way of life - a
slow and peaceful rural way of life. Cricket is associated with long sunny
summer afternoons, the smell of new-mown grass and the sound of leather
(the ball) connecting with willow (the wood from which cricket bats are
made). Cricket is special because it combines competition with the British
dream of rural life. Cricket is what the village green is for! As if to
emphasize the rural connection, first class cricket teams in England,
unlike teams in other sports, do not bear the names of towns but of
counties (Essex and Yorkshire, for example).


      Traditionally, the favourite sports of the  British  upper  class  are
hunting, shooting and fishing. The  most  widespread  form  of  hunting  is
foxhunting  indeed, that is what  the  word  hunting  usually  means  in
Britain. Foxhunting works like this. A group of people on  horses,  dressed
in eighteenth century riding clothes, ride around with a pack of dogs. When
the dogs pick up the scent of a fox, somebody blows a horn and  then  dogs,
horses and riders all chase the fox. Often the fox gets away, but  if  not,
the dogs get to it before the hunters and tear it to pieces. As  you  might
guess in  a  country  of  animal-lovers,  where  most  people  have  little
experience of the harsher  realities  of  nature,  foxhunting  is  strongly
opposed by some people. The League  Against  Cruel  Sports  wants  it  made
illegal  and  the  campaign  has  been  steadily  intensifying.  There  are
sometimes violent encounters between foxhunters and  protestors  (whom  the
hunters call  'saboteurs').Foxhunting  is  a  popular  pastime  among  some
members of the higher social classes and a few  people  from  lower  social
classes, who often see their participation as a mark of newly  won  status.
The hunting of  foxes  is  sport  associated  through  the  centuries  with
ownership of land. The hounds chase the  fox,  followed  by  people  riding
horses, wearing red or black coats and conforming with  various  rules  and
customs. In a few hill areas stags are hunted similarly. Both  these  types
of hunting are enjoyed mainly by people who can afford the cost of  keeping
horses and carrying them to hunt meetings  in  'horse  boxes',  or  trailer
vans. Both, particularly stag-hunting, are opposed by  people  who  condemn
the cruelty involved in chasing and killing frightened animals. There  have
been attempts to persuade Parliament to pass laws to  forbid  hunting,  but
none has been successful. There is no law about hunting foxes, but there is
a fox-hunting seasons  from November to March.
      Killing birds with guns is known as 'shooting' in  Britain.  It  is  a
minority pastime confined largely to the higher social  classes;  there  are
more than three times as many licensed guns for this purpose  in  France  as
there are in Britain. The birds which people try to shoot (such  as  grouse)
may only be shot during certain specified  times  of  the  year.  The  upper
classes often organize 'shooting parties' during the 'season'.  The  British
do not shoot small animals or birds  for  sport,  though  some  farmers  who
shoot rabbits or pigeons may  enjoy  doing  so.  But  'game  birds',  mainly
pheasant, grouse and partridge, have traditionally provided  sport  for  the
landowning gentry. Until Labour's election  victory  of  1964  many  of  the
prime ministers of the past two hundred years, along with members  of  their
cabinets, had gone to the grouse moors of Scotland or the Pennines  for  the
opening of the shooting season  on  12  August.  Since  1964  all  that  has
changed. Now there are not many leading British  politicians  carrying  guns
in the shooting parties, though there may be foreign millionaires,  not  all
of them from America. Some of the beaters,  whose  job  is  to  disturb  the
grouse so that they fly up to be shot, are students  earning  money  to  pay
for trips abroad. But there is still a race to send the  first  shot  grouse
to London restaurants, where there are people happy to pay huge  amounts  of
money for the privilege of eating them.
      The only kind of hunting which is associated with the working class is
hare-coursing, in which greyhound dogs chase hares.  However,  because  the
vast majority of people in Britain  are  urban  dwellers,  this  too  is  a
minority activity.
      The one kind of hunting which is popular among all social classes is
fishing. In fact, this is the most popular participatory  sport  of  all  in
Britain. Between four and five million people  go  fishing  regularly.  When
fishing is done competitively, it is called angling. The most  popular  of
all outdoor sports is fishing, from the banks of lakes or rivers or  in  the
sea, from jetties, rocks or beaches.  Some  British  lakes  and  rivers  are
famous for their trout or salmon, and attract enthusiasts from all over  the

    Apart from being hunted, another way in which animals are used in sport
is when they race. Horse-racing is a long-established and popular sport  in
Britain, both flat racing and national hunt  racing  (where  there  are
jumps for the horses), sometimes known as steeplechase. The former became
known as 'the sport of  kings'  in  the  seventeenth  century,  and  modern
British royalty has close connections with  sport  involving  horses.  Some
members of the royal family own racehorses and attend certain  annual  race
meetings (Ascot, for example); some are also  active  participants  in  the
sports of polo and show-jumping (both of which involve riding a horse). The
steeplechase (crosscountry  running)  is  very  popular  in  most  European
countries. The first known organized crosscountry  race  in  1837  was  the
Crick Run at Rugby School. Originally, crosscountry running took place over
open country where the hazards were the natural ones to  be  found  in  the
country. These included hedges, ditches, streams and the like. Schools  and
some clubs still run over open country. Sometimes, however, the competitors
run off the course as, on one occasion, happened to all the  runners  in  a
race. Because of this, the organization of  these  races  has  to  be  very
strict. Nowadays, crosscountry races (or steeplechases) are often run in an
enclosed area where the hazards are  artificial.  This  makes  organization
      The  chief  attraction  of  horse-racing  for  most  people   is   the
opportunity  it  provides  for  gambling  (see  below).  Greyhound   racing,
although declining, is still popular for the same  reason.  In  this  sport,
the dogs chase a  mechanical  hare  round  a  racetrack.  It  is  easier  to
organize than horse-racing and the dogs has the reputation  of  being  the
poor man's racing. Greyhound racing has had a remarkable  revival  in  the
1980s, and by 1988 it accounted for about a quarter  of  all  gambling.  Its
stadiums are  near  town  centres,  small  enough  to  be  floodlit  in  the
evenings. Until recently the spectators  were  mostly  male  and  poor,  the
surroundings shabby. The 1980s have changed all this,  with  the  growth  of
commercial sponsorship for advertising. There are fewer stadiums  and  fewer
spectators than in 1970, but the old cloth cap image has  become  much  less
appropriate. But one thing has not changed. The  elite  of  Britain's  dogs,
and their trainers, mostly come from Ireland.

      Famous (horse) race meetings

      The Grand National: at Aintree, near Liverpool, in March or  April  It
      is England's main steeplechase (race over fences). The course is  over
      seven kilometres and includes thirty  jumps,  of  which  fourteen  are
      jumped twice. It is a dangerous race Jockeys have been hurt and horses
      have been killed.
      The Derby: at Epsom, south of London, in May or June. It is  England's
      leading flat race (not over fences).

      Ascot: near Windsor  in  June.  Very  fashionable.  The  Queen  always
      As I have mentioned horse-racing, I think it will be good to draw
attention to racing in hole.


      There are all kinds of racing  in  England    horse-racing,  motorcar
racing, boat-racing, dog-racing, and even races for donkeys. On sports days
at school boys and girls run races, and  even  train  for  them.  There  is
usually a mile race for older boys, and the one who wins it is certainly  a
good runner.
      Usually those who run a race go as fast as  possible,  but  there  are
some races in which everybody has to go very carefully in  order  to  avoid
     There is the "three-legged" race, for example,  in  which  a  pair  of
runners have the right leg of one tied to the left leg  of  the  other.  If
they try to go too fast they are certain to fall. And there is the egg-and-
spoon race, in which each runner must carry  an  egg  in  a  spoon  without
letting it drop. If the egg does fall, it must be picked up with the spoon,
not the fingers.
     Naturally animals don't race unless they are made to run in some  way,
though it often seems as if little lambs are running races with each  other
in the fields in spring.
     Horses are ridden,  of  course.  Dogs  won't  race  unless  they  have
something to chase, and so they are given a hare to go after, either a real
one or an imitation one.
     The most famous boat-race in England is between Oxford and  Cambridge.
It is rowed over a course on the River Thames, and thousands of  people  go
to watch it. The eight rowers in each boat have great struggle, and at  the
end there is usually only a short distance  between  the  winners  and  the
     The University boat-race started in 1820 and has  been  rowed  on  the
Thames almost every spring since 1836. At the Henly Regatta in Oxfordshire,
founded in 1839, crews from all over the world compete each July in various
kinds of race over a straight course of 1 mile 550 yards (about 2.1 km).
      Horse racing is big business, along with the  betting  which  sustains
it. Every day of the year, except Sundays, there is a race meeting at  least
one of Britain's several dozen racecourses. Nine-tenths of  the  betting  is
done by people all over the country, by post or at local betting shops,  and
it is estimated that a tenth of all  British  men  bet  regularly  on  horse
races, many of them never going to a race course.
      Horse racing accounts for about half of all gambling, dog racing for a
quarter (after increasing by 27 per cent in  1987-88).  The  total  gambling
expenditure is estimated at over three billion pounds a year,  or  nearly  1
per cent of the gross domestic product - though  those  who  bet  get  about
three-quarters of their  stake  back  in  winnings.  There  is  no  national
lottery, though premium bonds are a form of national savings,  with  monthly
prizes instead of interest. About half of all households  bet  regularly  on
the football pools, although half of the money  staked  is  divided  between
the state, through taxes, and the operators. People  are  attracted  by  the
hope of winning huge prizes, but some winners become  miserable  with  their
sudden unaccustomed wealth.  Bingo  sessions,  often  in  old  cinemas,  are
attractive mainly to women, and have a good  social  element.  More  popular
are the slot machines in establishments described  as  'amusement  arcades'.
There has been some worry about the addiction of young people to  this  form
of gambling, which can lead to theft.


      Even if they are not taking part or watching, British people  like  to
be involved in sport. They can do this by placing bets on  future  results.
Gambling is widespread throughout all social classes. It  is  so  basic  to
sport that the word 'sportsman' used to be a synonym for 'gambler'.
      When, in 1993, the starting procedure for the Grand National  did  not
work properly, so that the  race  could  not  take  place,  it  was  widely
regarded as a national disaster. The 70 million which had been gambled  on
the result (that's more than a pound for each man, woman and child  in  the
country!) all had to be given back.
      Every year, billions of pounds are bet on horse races.  So  well-known
is this activity that everybody in the country, even those with no  interest
in horse-racing, would understand the meaning of a  question  such  as  'who
won the 2.30 at Chester?' (Which horse won the race that  was  scheduled  to
take place at half past two today at the Chester racecourse? The  questioner
probably wants to know because he or she  has  gambled  some  money  on  the
result.) The central role of horse-racing in gambling is also shown  by  one
of the names used to denote companies and individuals whose business  it  is
to take bets. Although these  are  generally  known  as  'bookmakers',  they
sometimes call themselves 'turf accountants' ('turf is  a  word  for  ground
where grass grows);
      Apart from the horses and the dogs, the most popular form of  gambling
connected with sports is the football  pools.  Every  week,  more  than  ten
million people stake a small sum on the results of  Saturday's  professional
matches. Another popular type of gambling, stereotypically  for  middle-aged
working class women, is bingo.
      Nonconformist religious groups traditionally frown upon  gambling  and
their disapproval has had some influence. Perhaps this is  why  Britain  did
not have a national lottery until 1994. But if people want to  gamble,  then
they will. For instance, before the national lottery  started,  the  British
gambled 250,000 on which company would be given the licence to run it!  The
country's big bookmakers are willing to offer odds  on  almost  anything  at
all if asked. Who will be the next Labour party leader? Will it rain  during
the Wimbledon tennis tournament? Will it  snow  on  Christmas  Day?  All  of
these offer opportunities for 'a flutter'.

      Apropos of the Wimbledon tennis tournament: Wimbledon is  a  place  to
which every tennis-player aspire. And I want to write some words about it.


      People all over the world know Wimbledon as the centre of lawn tennis.
But most people do not know that it  was  famous  for  another  game  before
tennis was invented. Wimbledon is now a part of Greater London. In  1874  it
was a country village, but it had a railway station and it was the  home  of
the All-England Croquet Club. The Club had been there since 1864. A  lot  of
people played croquet in England at  that  time  and  enjoyed  it,  but  the
national championships did not attract many  spectators.  So  the  Club  had
very little money, and the members were looking for ways  of  getting  some.
"This new game of lawn tennis seems to have plenty  of  action,  and  people
like watching it," they thought. "Shall we allow people to play lawn  tennis
on some of our beautiful croquet lawns?"

      In 1875 they changed the name of the Club  to  the  "All-England  Lawn
Tennis and Croquet Club", and that is the name that you will still  find  in
the telephone book. Two years later,  in  1877,  Wimbledon  held  the  first
world lawn tennis championship (men's singles).3 The winner was S. W.  Gore,
a Londoner. There were  22  players,  and  200  spectators,  each  paid  one
shilling. Those who watched were dressed in the very latest  fashion    the
men in hard top hats and long coats, and the ladies in dresses that  reached
to the ground! The Club gained  10. It was  saved.  Wimbledon  grew.  There
was some surprise and doubt, of course, when the Club allowed women to  play
in the first women's singles championship in 1884.  But  the  ladies  played
welleven in long skirts that hid their legs and feet.

      The Wimbledon championships begin on the Monday nearest to June 22, at
a time when England often has its finest weather. It is not only because  of
the tennis that people like to go there. When the weather is good, it  is  a
very pleasant place to spend an afternoon. The grass  is  fresh  and  green,
the players wear beautiful white clothes, the spectators are dressed in  the
latest fashion, there may be members of the Royal  Family  among  them,  and
there are cool drinks in the open-air  cafes  next  to  the  tennis  courts.
Millions of people watch the championships on television.


      Almost every sport which exists is played in Britain. As well as the
sports already mentioned, hockey (mostly on a field but also on ice) is
quite popular, and both basketball (for men) and netball (for women) are
growing in popularity. So too is the ancient game of rounders.
      This sport is rather similar to American baseball and ancient  Russian
lapta, but it certainly does not have the same image. It has a long  history
in England as something that people (young and old,  male  and  female)  can
play together at village fetes. It is often  seen  as  not  being  a  proper
      However, despite this image, it has recently become  the  second  most
popular sport for state schools in Britain. More traditional sports such as
cricket and rugby are being abandoned in favour of rounders, which is  much
easier to organize. Rounders requires less special  equipment,  less  money
and boys and girls can play it together. It also takes up less time. It  is
especially attractive for state schools  with  little  money  and  time  to
spare. More than a quarter of all state-school sports fields are  now  used
for rounders. Only football, which is played on nearly half of  all  state-
school fields, is more popular.

      The British have a preference for team games. Individual  sports  such
as athletics, cycling, gymnastics  and  swimming  have  comparatively  small
followings. Large numbers of people become  interested  in  them  only  when
British competitors do  well  in  international  events.  The  more  popular
individual sports are those in which  socializing  is  an  important  aspect
(such as tennis, golf, sailing and snooker). It is notable in  this  context
that, apart from international competitions, the only athletics event  which
generates a lot of enthusiasm is the annual London  Marathon.  Most  of  the
tens of thousands of participants in this race are  'fun  runners'  who  are
merely trying to complete it,  sometimes  in  outrageous  costumes,  and  so
collect money for charity. The biggest new development  in  sport  has  been
with  long-distance  running.  'Jogging',  for  healthy  outdoor   exercise,
needing no skill or equipment, became popular in the 1970s,  and  soon  more
and more people took it seriously. Now the annual London Marathon is like  a
carnival, with a million people watching as the  world's  star  runners  are
followed by 25,000 ordinary people trying to complete the  course.  Most  of
them succeed and then collect money from supporters for  charitable  causes.
Many thousands of people take part in local marathons all over Britain.
The Highland Games

      Scottish Highland Games, at which sports (including tossing the caber,
putting  the  weight  and  throwing  the   hammer),   dancing   and   piping
competitions take place, attract large numbers of spectators from  all  over
the world.

      These meetings are held every year in different places in the Scottish
Highlands. They include the clans led by  their  pipers,  dressed  in  their
kilts, tartan plaids, and plumed bonnets, who march round the arena.

      The features common to Highland Games are bagpipe and Highland dancing
competitions and the performance of heavy athletic events  some  of  which,
such as tossing the caber, are Highland  in  origin.  All  competitors  wear
Highland dress, as do most of the judges. The games take place  in  a  large
roped-off arena. Several events take place at  the  same  time:  pipers  and
dancers perform on a platform; athletes toss  the  caber,  put  the  weight,
throw the hammer, and wrestle. There is also a  competition  for  the  best-
dressed Highlander.

      Highland dancing is performed to bagpipe music, by men and women, such
as the Sword Dance and the Reel.

      No one knows exactly when the men of the Highlands first  gathered  to
wrestle, toss cabers, throw hammers, put weights, dance and play music. The
Games reflected the tough life of the early Scots. Muscle-power  was  their
means of livelihood  handling  timber,  lifting  rocks  to  build  houses,
hunting. From such activities have developed the contests  of  tossing  the
caber, putting the weight  and  throwing  the  hammer.  Tossing  the  caber
originated among woodmen who wanted to cast their  logs  into  the  deepest
part of a river. Tossing the caber is not a question of who  can  throw  it
farthest. For a perfect  throw  the  caber  must  land  in  the  12-o'clock
position after being thrown in a vertical semicircle. The caber is  a  very
heavy and long log..

Conker Contest  and  British Marbles Championship

      Every year, usually on the Wednesday nearest to 20th October, about  a
hundred competitors gather to take part in the annual conker competition in
a chosen place. The conkers are collected by children  from  an  avenue  of
chestnut trees. The conkers are carefully examined and  numbered  on  their
flat sides, then bored and threaded  on  nylon  cord.  Each  competitor  is
allowed an agreed number of "strikes", and a referee is present to see fair
play. There are prizes for winners  and  runners-up.  The  contest  usually
starts at about 7 p. m.
      It is said that in Elizabethan times two suitors for a village  beauty
settled the matter by means of a marbles contest. What  is  now  the  Marble
Championship is believed to be a survival  of  that  contest.  The  game  of
marbles dates back to Roman times. Teams  of  six  compete  on  a  circular,
sanded rink. Forty-nine marbles are placed in the centre of  the  rink,  and
the players try to knock out4 as many as possible  with  their  marble.  The
marble is rested on the index finger and flicked5 with the  thumb.  The  two
highest individual scores battle for the  championship  with  only  thirteen
marbles on the rink. Similar contests are now held in  some  other  English-
speaking countries.

The well-known sporting events
The Boat Race: (between Oxford and Cambridge universities),  on  the  River
in London at Easter. The course is over seven kilometres. Oxford  have  won
times, Cambridge 69 times.
The Wimbledon Tennis Tournament:  in  July,  at  Wimbledon,  south  London,
by many tennis players as the most important championship to win. There  is
public interest in the tournament. Many tennis fans queue all night outside
grounds in order to get tickets for the finals.
The Open Golf Championship:  golf  was  invented  by  the  Scots,  and  its
is at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews, Scotland.
Henley (Rowing) Regatta: at  Henley  on  the  Thames  (between  London  and
An international summer event. It is a fashionable occasion.
Cowes Week: a yachting regatta. Cowes is a small town on the Isle of Wight,
opposite Southampton, and a world-famous yachting centre.

      At the end of my course paper I want to make a short review of what  I
have already written and write what I havent written.
      Many kinds of sport  originated  from  England.  The  English  have  a
proverb, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." They  do  not  think
that play is more important than work; they think that  Jack  will  do  his
work better if  he  plays  as  well,  so  he  is  encouraged  to  do  both.
Association football, or soccer is one of the most  popular  games  in  the
British Isles played from late August until the beginning of May. In summer
the English national sport is cricket. When the English  say:  'that's  not
cricket' it means 'that's not fair', 'to play the game' means 'to be fair'.
      Golf is Scotland's chief contribution to British sport.  It  is  worth
noting here an interesting feature of sporting life in Britain, namely, its
frequently close connection with social class of the players or  spectators
except where a game may be said to be a "national" sport. This is the  case
with cricket in England which is played and watched by all classes. This is
true of golf, which is everywhere  in  the  British  Isles  a  middle-class
activity. Rugby Union, the amateur variety of Rugby football, is the  Welsh
national sport played by all sections of society whereas, elsewhere, it too
is a game for the middle classes. Association football is  a  working-class
sport as are boxing, wrestling, snooker, darts and dog-racing.  As  far  as
fishing is concerned it is, apart from being the most popular British sport
from the angle of the number of active participants, a sport where what  is
caught determines the class of a fisherman. If it is a salmon or  trout  it
is upper-class, but if it is the sort offish found in canals, ponds or  the
sea, then the angler is almost sure to be working-class.
      Walking and swimming are the two  most  popular  sporting  activities,
being almost equally undertaken by men and women. Snooker (billiards), pool
and darts are the next most popular sports among  men.  Aerobics  (keep-fit
exercises) and  yoga,  squash  and  cycling  are  among  the  sports  where
participation has been increasing in recent years.
      There are several places in Britain associated with a particular  kind
of sport. One of them is Wimbledon  a suburb to the south of London  where
the All-England Lawn Tennis Championships are held in  July  (since  1877).
The finals of the tournament are played on the Centre Court. The other  one
is Wembley   a  stadium  in  north  London  where  international  football
matches, the Cup Finals and other events have taken place  since  1923.  It
can hold over 100,000 spectators. The third one is Derby, the  most  famous
flat race in the English racing calendar, it is run at  Epsom  near  London
since 1780.

      Having written my course paper I think  that  I  have  proved  sports
deserving  attention.  Especially  sport  is  a  very   interesting   theme
concerning the United Kingdom. Of course, I couldnt illustrate all Britain
sports, but which I still do reflect Britains life with all  contradictory
combinations. Both life is calm and exciting, and sport is calm with golfs
followers and exciting with footballs fans.

1. Which is the English summer national sport?
2. Which kinds of sport can you name in English?
3. Which game can be called the most popular game in the world?
4. How many players are there in a football team?
5. What has given British football a bad name recently?
6. What is a football pool?
7. Football is played chiefly with the feet. What about rugby?
8. How do Rugby Union and Rugby League differ from each other?
9. What is called a test match in cricket?
10. Which place in Britain is associated with lawn tennis championships?
11. Which place in Britain is associated with a yachting regatta?
12. Which famous horse-race meetings does the Queen call on?
13. What kinds of racing do you know?
14. What events take place at Scottish Highland Games?
15. Where is the Royal and Ancient Golf Club located?
16.  What was about half of all money bet on in 1993?
17. What is a conker?
18. What is jogging?
19. What is more important in sports: the ability to win a victory or the
   ability to lose without anger; absolute fairness or physical power?
20. What English idioms which have come from the world of sport do you

                           THE LIST OF LITERATURE
1.        1    English//  Football,  made  in
   Britain, loved by the world, 2001, 13, p.2
2. Britain in Brief, , 1993
3. Peter Bromhead Life in Modern Britain, Longman, 1997
4.  James  ODriscoll  Britain.  The  country  and  its  people,   Oxford
   University Press, 1997
5. David McDowall Britain in close-up, Longman, 2000
6. Satinova V.F. Read and speak about Britain  and  the  British,  Minsk,
7. Material from the site:

1. Levashova V.A. Britain today
2. David McDowall Britain in close-up, Longman, 2000
3. Oshepkova V.V., Shustilova I. I. Britain in brief

 A nation of gamblers
      In 1993 a total of 12.7 billion was wagered by the British  -  that's
 289 for every adult in the country. 9.5  billion was won. The government
 took just over 1 billion in taxes. The rest was kept by  the  bookmakers.
 About half of all the money bet in 1993  was on horses or greyhounds.  74%
 of all adults gambled at least once during the year.
 At least once every two weeks:
 39% did the football pools;
 20% played on gaming and    fruit machines;
 18% played bingo;
 14% put money on the horses.
      In Britain in 1993, there was one betting shop for every 3,000 adults.

 There were also:
 120 casinos;
 120,000 fruit machines;
 1,000 bingo clubs;
 1,000 lotteries;
 59 racetracks;
 37 greyhound stadiums.


"Sport in the UK"