Sport is very important part of life in Great Britain. Thousands of people devote their leisure time to outdoor and indoor games, athletics, cycling, mountain climbing, boxing and other sport. Horse-racing, dog-racing and motor racing are among the most popular sports in Britain. They gather many spectators. Outdoor games played in Great Britain are team games such as football, cricket and hockey, and games in which individuals or couples try their skills, for example lawn-tennis and golf. The number of participants and spectators shows that the most popular of the team games are football and cricket, and the most popular individual game is lawn-tennis.
Football. Although Englishmen played a kind of football in the Middle Ages or even earlier, as an organised game it dates from just over a century ago. One type of football, in which the players carried the oval ball in their hands, appeared in 1895 at Rugby School. That is why, the game took the name Rugby or "rugger". The rules of the game are different from football (known as "soccer"), and there 15 players instead of 11, in a team. Soccer matches get big crowds. The Cup Final is one of the most important football matches of the year in England; it is always played at the Wembley stadium, near London, which holds 100,000 spectators. The matches between England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland also excite great interest, as do the matches between British teams from European and American countries.
Cricket. Cricket is England's national summer game. Nobody knows exactly how old the game is, but some forms of cricket were being played in England in the 13th century. That game was probably quite different form the one which is known, as the rules of the game changed over the years. Cricket today is played on a pitch with a wicket at each end. The two wickets are twenty meters apart. The period during which each team bats is called an innings. Most matches last one day, and each side has one innings, but important matches (such as international ones) can last six days. The oldest series of international matches (Test Matches) is between England and Australia, and the team that wins, takes home a famous trophy.
The Ashes. The trophy has this odd unusual name because it contains the ashes of the stumps and bails that were used in Test series of 1882, and then burned. And even today for cricket lovers winning The Ashes is like winning The World Cup for football! In England cricket is played in schools and universities, and almost all villages and towns have their cricket teams which play regularly at least one match a week during the season from May to September. There are many thousands of cricket grounds all over England.
Table tennis or ping-pong. Englishmen heard about table tennis in 1880. Then the International Table Tennis Association was formed and the international rules were worked out. Many people like to play table tennis. This game is played by men and women. There are some tennis clubs in England, but if you play there it is necessary to pay money for it. Englishmen like playing tennis but many of them prefer to watch this game.
Lawn-tennis. The number of people who play lawn-tennis is great. The tennis Championship held at Wimbledon for two weeks at the end of June and beginning of July that are the main event of the lawn-tennis season in Britain and in fact, in the world. These championships, in which men and women of many nationalities compete, gather large crowds. Wimbledon. It is the centre of lawn tennis. Some years ago Wimbledon was a village, now it is a part of London. The most important tennis competition takes place there every summer.
Swimming. Many children in Britain learn to swim at school, or during holidays at the seaside, and swimming as a summer pastime is enjoyed by millions of people. There are also indoor swimming pools, which make swimming possible all-the-year round. Swimming championships and competitions are widely reported in the press, over the radio and on television. Attempts to swim the English Channel which separates Great Britain from the Continent, have been made by swimmers of many nationalities every summer. Some of the attempts are successful. Englishmen pay much attention to swimming, rowing and walking. Usually the Oxford—Cambridge Boat Race takes place at the end of March or at the beginning of April. It is an interesting contest between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. It is usually held on the Thames River. The first such race was held in 1820. There were a lot of people watching this race.
There are some other racing competitions in England. They are motor-car racing, dog-racing, donkey-racing, boat-racing, and horse-racing. All kinds of racings are popular in England. It is interesting to see the egg-and-spoon race. The runner, who takes part in this competition, must carry an egg in a spoon. It is not allowed to drop the egg. We must speak about the Highland Games in Scotland. All competitors wear Highland dress. There are such competitions as putting the weight, tossing the caber and others. The English are great lovers of sports.
You can sometimes hear that there are no winter sports in England. Of course the English weather is not always cold enough to ski, skate, or toboggan, but winter is a good season for hunting and fishing.
Indeed sport in one form or another is an essential part of daily life in Britain.
Task 1. Match the beginning of the sentence with its ending.
Outdoor games played in Great Britain are games in which individuals or couples try...
... important football matches of the year in England.
Football, in which the players carried...
... and the international rules were worked out.
The International Table Tennis Association was formed ...
... have been made by swimmers of many nationalities every summer.
Cricket today is played ...
... is an essential part of daily life in Britain.
The Cup Final is one of the most...
... on a pitch with a wicket at each end.
The end of June and beginning of July are ...
... their skills, for example lawn-tennis and golf.
Attempts to swim the English Channel which separates Great Britain from the Continent, ...
... which play regularly at least one match a week during the season from May to September.
All villages and towns have their cricket teams ...
... at the end of March or at the beginning of April.
Usually the Oxford—Cambridge Boat Race takes place ...
... the oval ball in their hands, appeared in 1895 at Rugby School.
Sport in one form or another ...
... the main event of the lawn-tennis season in Britain and in fact, in the world.
Task 2. Fill in the chart with the proper words from the text.
Kind of sport
Outdoor or indoor sport
team game or individual
Task 3. Complete the sentences with the suitable words and phrases.
1. Thousands of people devote their ... time to outdoor and ... games.
2. One type of ..., in which the players carried the ... ball in their hands, appeared in ... at Rugby School.
3. Cricket today is played on a ... with a wicket at each end.
4. Englishmen heard about ... tennis in ... .
5. Some years ago Wimbledon was a ..., now it is a part of ... .
6. Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is an interesting contest between the universities of ... and ... .
7. We must speak about the ... Games in Scotland.
8. Winter is a good season for ... and ... in the UK.
Task 4. Discuss with your group mates British national kinds of sport. Do you have any national kind of sport in your country?