Рефераты. Sport in the UK



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 Ј70 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

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