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History of sports. Sports and Society


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History of sports. Sports and Society

An extremely loyal fan

There was a Packers fan with a really crappy seat at Lambeau. Looking with his binoculars, he spotted an empty seat on the 50-yard line. Thinking to himself 'what a waste' he made his way down to the empty seat.
When he arrived at the seat, he asked the man sitting next to it, 'Is this seat taken?' The man replied, 'This was my wife's seat. She passed away. She was a big Packers fan.' The other man replied,'I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. May I ask why you didn't give the ticket to a friend or a relative?'
The man replied, 'They're all at the funeral.'


1. Which country has won the FIFA world cup most often?

A. Italy, B. Argentina, C. Scotland, D. Brazil

2. Who won the Golden Boot at the 1986 world cup?

A. Zico, B. Ray Wilkins, C. Gary Lineker, D. Diego Maradona

3. Which country is the current ladies European nations football champion?

A. Sweden, B. Scotland, C. Germany, D. England

4. Who holds the outdoor 200 m record?

A. Michael Johnson, B. Maurice Green, C. John Regis, D. Frank Fredricks

5. What number did Michael Jordan wear?

A. 36, B. 11, C. 23, D. 26

6. Which man currently holds the record for the fastest tennis serve?

A. Andy Roddick, B. Greg Rudzeski, C. Boris Becker, Tim Henman

7. Where was the 1996 summer Olympics held?

A. Sydney, B. Barcelona, C. Berlin, D. Atlanta

8. Colin Macrae is known best from being a ..?

A. F 1 driver, B. jockey, C. darts player, D. rally driver

9. Which company is Manchester Uniteds main sponsor?

A. Nike, B. Umbro, C. Sharp, D. Adidas

10. Ian Thorpe is known in which sport?

A. rugby, B. football, C. swimming, D. athletics

11. Which darts player has won the most world titles?

A. Phil Taylor, B. Jocky Wilson, C. Eric Bristow, D. John Lowe

12. Who has won the most professional snooker titles?

A. Joe Davis, B. Alex Higgins, C. John Higgins, D. Ray Reardon

13. Where is San Siro?

A. England, B. Spain, C. Italy, D. France

14. Where will the 2006 World Cup finals be held?

A. France, B. Brazil, South Africa, D. Germany

15. Which of the following teams plays in green?

A. Deportivo, B. Sporting Lisbon, C. Lyon, D. PSV Eindhoven

Text 1

The development of sport throughout history can teach us a great deal about social changes, and about the nature of sport itself.

There are many modern discoveries in France, Africa and Australia of cave art (e.g. Lascaux) from prehistory which provide evidence of ritual ceremonial behaviour. Some of these sources date from over 30,000 years ago, as established by carbon dating. Although there is scant direct evidence of sport from these sources, it is reasonable to extrapolate that there was some activity at these times resembling sport.

There are artifacts and structures which suggest that Chinese people engaged in activities which meet our definition of sport as early as 4000 BC. Gymnastics appears to have been a popular sport in China's past. Monuments to the Pharaohs indicate that a range of sports were well developed and regulated several thousands of years ago, including swimming and fishing. Other sports included javelin throwing, high jump and wrestling. Ancient Persian sports such as the traditional Iranian martial art of Zurkhaneh had a close connection to the warfare skills. Among other sports which originate in Persia are Polo and jousting.

A wide range of sports were already established at the time of the Ancient Greece. Wrestling, running, boxing, javelin, discus throwing, and chariot racing were prevalent. This suggests that the military culture of Greece was an influence on the development of its sports and vice versa. The Olympic Games were held every four years in Ancient Greece, at a small village in Pelopponisos called Olympia.

Sport has been increasingly organised and regulated from the time of the Ancient Olympics up to the present century. Activities necessary for food and survival became regulated activities done for pleasure or competition on an increasing scale, e.g. hunting, fishing, horticulture. The Industrial Revolution and mass production brought increased leisure which allowed increases in spectator sports, less elitism in sports, and greater accessibility. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. Professionalism became prevalent, further adding to the increase in sport's popularity. (retrieved from

Text 2

The origin of the ancient Olympic Games has been lost, although there are many legends surrounding its origins. One of these legends associates the first Games with the ancient Greek concept of ekeicheiria or Olympic Truce. The first recorded celebration of the Games in Olympia was in 776 BC, although this was certainly not the first time they were held. The Games were then mostly a local affair, and only one event was contested, the stadion race.

From that moment on, the Games slowly became more important throughout ancient Greece, reaching their zenith in the sixth and fifth centuries BC. The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, contests alternating with sacrifices and ceremonies honouring both Zeus (whose colossal statue stood at Olympia), and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia famous for his legendary chariot race, in whose honor the games were held. The number of events increased to twenty, and the celebration was spread over several days. Winners of the events were broadly admired and were immortalised in poems and statues. The Games were held every four years, and the period between two celebrations became known as an Olympiad. The Greeks used Olympiads as one of their methods to count years. The most famous Olympic athlete lived in these times: The sixth century BC wrestler Milo of Croton is the only athlete in history to win a victory in six Olympics.

The Games gradually lost in importance as the Romans gained power in Greece. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the Olympic Games were seen as a 'pagan' festival threatening Christian hegemony, and in the emperor Theodosius outlawed the Olympics, ending a thousand year period of Olympic Games.

During the ancient times normally only young men competed. Performers were usually naked, not only as the weather was appropriate but also as the festival was meant to be, in part, a celebration of the achievements of the human body. Upon winning the games, the victor would get not only the prestige of being in first place but also a crown of olive leaves.

During competition for some of the events, many of the participants would use oils to keep their skin smooth, as well as provide an appealing luster to anyone who saw them.(retrieved from

Text 3

One way of thinking about sports place in society involves setting up a model identifying the main features of sport in the traditional or preindustrial world and placing it alongside one of modern or industrial society. Sport in the former is characterised by its periodic, unorganised and essentially local nature. There is no generally accepted way of playing nor any widely agreed set of rules. No controlling organisations exist. Sport is not a separate activity pursued for its own sake but closely bound up with the hierarchy, ritual and symbols of the wider social life. Sport in particular, in what was largely an agrarian society, was governed by the religious and seasonal rhythms of that society. It usually took place on the festivals associated with those rhythms.

Sport in modern society, on the other hand, is almost everything which sport in earlier times was not. It is highly organised, structured and regulated. A regular programme of fixtures exists at every level of activity, local, regional, national, even international. Sport at the highest level is specialised, bureaucratised, and increasingly commercialised. The goal of the athlete, who for a period of his life does nothing else but prepare for and compete in his or her chosen sport, is victory. Sport has taken on an important role in education, the promotion of health and the making of profits. Sporting performance has contributed to the status of individuals, towns, institutions and countries. What had happened to sport in the change from agrarian to industrial society reflected those societal changes. A backward-looking, traditional, customary way of life had been replaced by a new order based on reason, individual striving and achievement. The transition from traditional to modern sport, so the argument goes, was one of the cultural expressions of a new scientific view of the world. (extracted from Sport in Britain, A Social History, Tony Mason)


I. Read the texts quickly and choose a title for each one of them:

A. Sports and society

B. History of sport

C. The Ancient Olympic Games

II. Read the texts 1 and 2 carefully and choose the correct answer:

Text 1

1. In which of the following countries javelin throwing was a well-known sport during ancient times?

A. Persia, B. China, C. Egypt

2. Which of the following sports is not an Olympic sport nowadays?

A. boxing

B. running

C. chariot racing

3. How does text 1 characterize the relationship between sports and the ancient Greek military culture?

A. There was no connection between the two.

B. They influenced each other.

C. The military culture totally controlled the development of sports in ancient Greece.

4. Which of the following sports originates from activities pursued for survival?

A. football

B. shooting

C. basketball

Text 2

5. When were the ancient Olympic Games held for the first time?

A. in 776 BC

B. before 776 BC

C. after 776 BC

6. How often did the ancient Olympic Games take place?

A. twice a decade

B. three times a decade

C. every four decades

7. What period of time is considered to have been the acme of the ancient Olympic Games?

A. between the 6th and the 5th centuries BC

B. between the 3rd and the 2nd centuries BC

C. between the 1st and the 2nd centuries BC

8. What caused the end of the ancient Olympic Games?

A. the rise of Christianity

B. lack of financial funds

C. the Greeks lost their interest in watching the games

9. When were the ancient Olympic Games declared illegal?

A. in the 3rd century BC

B. in the 3rd century AD

C. in the 4th century AD

10. Besides honouring Zeus and Pelops the ancient Olympic Games represented:

A. an opportunity to kill people in a fight without being punished.

B. an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the human body.
C. an opportunity to warship the god of war.

III. In the table below provide as many characteristics of sport as you can find in text 3:

Sport in the traditional world

Sport in the modern society

IV. Choose the variant that best reflects the meaning of the following words in the texts (look for the words written in bold):

Text 1

1. scant means:

A. sufficient, B. amazing, C. insufficient

2. leisure means:

A. time spent in or free for relaxation or enjoyment, B. show business, C. TV programme

3. advent means:

A. development, B. decadence, C. degeneracy

Text 2

4. truce means: 

A. truth, B. an agreement between enemies to stop fighting for a certain time, C. competition

5. broadly means:

A. scarcely, B. slightly, C. widely

6. to outlaw means:

A. to ban, B. to permit, C. to implement

7. smooth means:

A. soft, B. moist, C. soaked

Text 3

8. to set up means:

A. to create, B. to analyze, C. to describe

9. bound up with means: 

A. separated from, B. connected with, C. established by

10. fixture means

A. repair, B. a sporting event which takes place on a particular date, C. a piece of equipment or furniture which is fixed on a position in a building or a vehicle


Write the names of the sports illustrated in the first column of the table below, then put + where appropriate:







12345 678910





Complete the following sentences with the words or phrases from the list below.

captain, pitch, goal, referee, coach, footballer, kick-off, score, draw, fouls, league, soccer, fair, free kick, opponents

1. What Europeans call football, Americans call .. .

2. The instructor of the team is the .. .

3. When you play in a football team you are a .. .

4. The games take place on a .. .

5. The leader of the team is the .. .

6. The man in the .. is the goal-keeper.

7. The beginning of the match is the .. .

8. During the match each team tries to .. as many goals as possible.

9. When the teams have scored the same number of goals we say its a .. .

10. The players of the other team are the .. .

11. The man who enforces the rules during the game is the .. .

12. Playing correctly is called .. play.

13. Unfair moves are called .. .

14. When a player brakes the rules the other team may get a .. .

15. A federation of football clubs is called a football .. .

These extracts from sporting commentaries were in pairs, but they have been mixed up. Decide which extract goes with which. Then guess which sport is being referred to in each extract.

1. .. and now, just when it looked as if Wallburger was going to win the bout on points, ..

2. .. at this stage, with the recent loss of Scherzos bishop, knight and both rooks, we can only be a couple of moves away from mate ..

3. .. and in pole position on the grid, on his favourite circuit, with its short straights and tight bends, is Marconi Libido-three times winner here and currently leading the championship table ..

4. .. then her legs shooting out in front of her, landing feet apart in the pit-a beautiful leap..

5. .. Frankfurter has produced a left hook from nowhere, midway through the thirteenth round round, to put him on the canvas. And it doesnt look as if hes going to beat the count ..

6. .. so it looks as if its going to be the fast finishers who can sprint to the line who are in with the best chance. Down the back straight, ..

7. .. a forehand drive return of service-fine shot-Lumbago cant get it. Its in!

8. .. you can see it again  now in slow motion; her foot hits the board, perfect take-off-the cycling movement she performs in mid-air ..

9. .. his king is nor virtually defenseless. And in fact its all over. Scherzo has resigned, his ..

10. .. and also crossing into the inside lane from lane number two ..

11. .. so, a free kick just outside the United Penalty area! Kipov dummies over the ball. Hansov takes it-across the goal. Pizov goes up for it but hes fouled by Robson. Its a penalty in injury time.

12. Thats it! Game, set and match to Andante ..

13. .. And theyre off! Down goes the flag and theyre away on the first of eighty laps.

14., the first lap in 53.4 seconds. Theres the bell and at the moment, the Kenyan is in front, leading by a couple of meters, and its a slow time ..

15. .. and this is her third attempt with the bar at 1 meter 81 ..

16. .. a red flag, his third no-throw in a row, so hes out of the competition ..

17. .. Two-one, and now a dramatic chance for an equalizer. Remember, if the match ends in a draw at full time, it will be decided on penalties ..

18. .. and the Russian team are disqualified for handing on the baton too late ..

19. .. steps into the circle, composes himself, spins rounds-oh dear! ..

20. .. slow approach, up and shes over, and at a new record height ..

Look at the groups of four words below. Try to decide in which sport all four words would be used. Then try to add a word of your own to each group. In one or two cases, more than one sport may be associated with the four items.

table, net, racket, backhand, 2. court, baseline, serve, volley, 3. pool, butterfly, breaststroke, turn, 4. foil, epe, saber, hit, 5. course, hole, flag, clubs, 6. reins, fence, whip, winning post, 7. bow, arrow, target, bull, 8. boat, rope, ramp, tricks, 9. mat, horse, bars, beam, 10. table, pocket, cue, red, 11. track, pedals, handlebars, lap, 12. corner, goal-kick, striker, goalkeeper, 13. ring, ropes, corner, bell, 14. board, square, pawns, queen, 15. racket, shuttlecock, smash, lob, 16. rink, puck, stick, goal.

Match the clothes and accessories with the sportsmen/women you would expect to find wearing them.

helmet, thigh and shoulder pads, boots

a. fencer

cap, goggles, trunks

b. sprinter

shorts, gloves, gumshield

c. footballer

shorts, vest, spikes

d. American footballer

mask, breastplate, gym shoes

e. swimmer

Read the following list of sports and create a crossword puzzle. It will contain five words across and five words down.


Track and field athletics.

  • Jumping: Triple jump, Long jump, High jump, Pole vault
  • Running: Sprints, Middle distance, Long distance, Relay races, Hurdling, Steeplechase
  • Throwing: Discus, Hammer throw, Horseshoe, Javelin, Atlatl, Shot put
  • Walking

Animal sports

Sports in which animals play a role.

  • Bullfighting
  • Camel racing
  • Cockfighting
  • Pigeon sport
  • Equestrianism: Quarterhorse racing, Steeplechase, Equestrianism, Thoroughbred racing Harness racing, Polo, Buzkashi

Combat sports: Aikido, Ba Gua, Boxing, Brazilian jiu jitsu, Capoeira, Fencing, Hapkido, Iaido, Judo, Ju-jitsu, Karate, Kempo, Kendo, Kung-fu, Mixed martial arts,Muay Thai, Naginata-do, Pencak Silat, Sambo, Sumo, Taekwondo, Tai Chi Chuan, Tang Soo Do, Wing Chun, Wrestling, Wushu, Yağlı Gres

Cycling: Bicycle polo, BMX racing, Cycloball, Cyclocross, Mountain bicycling, Mountain unicycling, Road bicycle racing, Track cycling, Triathlon, Unicycle trials

Extreme Sports: Adventure racing, Base jumping, Bodyboarding, Bungee jumping, Kite Surfing, Indoor Surfing Motocross, Paragliding, Parkour, Rock climbing, Skateboarding, Snowboarding, Wakeboarding, Surfing


Gymnastic sports Artistic gymnastics, Rhythmic gymnastics, Sports acrobatics, Sports aerobics, Trampolining

Motorised sports

Sports based on motorised transportation, also not really considered 'sports' by the majority of people: Air Racing, Auto racing, Karting, Motorboat racing, Motorcycle racing

Sports not in any of the other categories American handball, Children playground sport, Combat robot, Dance sport, Disabled sports, Fives, Foosball, Footbag (hacky sack), Haggis Hurling, Jai-Alai, Keysport (La Llave), Modern pentathlon, Ringo, Tetherball, Triathlon

Outdoor sports

Sports not based on a specific field Aerobatics, Aeromodelling, Ballooning, Caving, Casting, Canyoning, Fell running, Flying disc, Geocaching, Gliding, Hang gliding, Mountaineering, Orienteering, Parachuting, Paragliding, Scuba diving, Skydiving, Sled-dog sports, Sport fishing, Surfing, Zorbing

Power sports

Sports mainly based on sheer power Bodybuilding, Dwarf throwing, Powerlifting, Tug of war, Weightlifting, Zurkhaneh

Racket sports

Sports where players use rackets to hit a ball or other object:Badminton, Ball Badminton, Paddleball, Pington, Racquetball, Racquets, Racketlon, Real tennis, Soft tennis, Squash, Squash tennis, Stick, Table Tennis, Tennis, Tennis Polo, Xare


Sports in which skates are used: Artistic roller skating, Figure skating, Ice hockey, Inline speed skating, Rink hockey, Roller derby, Roller hockey, Roller skating, Inline skating, Roller speed skating, Short track speed skating, Speed skating, Synchronized skating

Skiing / Snowsports

Sports in which skis or snowboards are used: Alpine skiing (also known as Downhill skiing), Backcountry skiing (also known as Off Piste skiing), Biathlon, Cross country skiing (together with ski jumping and nordic combined also known as Nordic skiing), Firngleiten, Freestyle skiing, Grass skiing, Nordic combined, Roller skiing,Skibob, Ski flying, Skijoring, Ski jumping, Ski touring, Speed skiing, Telemark skiing, Snowboarding, Freestyle snowboarding, Extreme snowboarding


Sports that use sleighs: Bobsleigh, Land luge (also known as street luge and road luge), Luge, Skeleton, Wok Racing

Sports Entertainment: Professional Wrestling

Target sports

Sports where the main objective is to hit a certain target: Archery, Kyudo, Atlatl, Billiard Sports, Billiards, Bar billiards, Carambole billiard, Pool, Snooker, Trick Shot Snooker, Bocce, Boccia, Bowling, Croquet, Curling, Darts, Golf, Disc golf, Speed golf, Golfcross, Horseshoe throwing, Laser Tag, Lawn bowls, Marbles, Pall mall, Pelota, Petanque, Shooting, Skittles, Trugo

Team sports

Sports that involve teams: Airsoft, American football, Australian rules football, Bandy, Baseball, Basketball, Beach Handball, Beach Soccer, Beach Rugby, Basque pelota, Broomball, Camogie, Canadian football, Canoe Polo, Cricket, Curling, Danball, Eton Wall Game, Faustball, Fistball, Floorball, Football (soccer), Futsal, Gaelic football, Goalball, Handball, Hit the Green Thing, Field Hockey, Hornusser, Hurling, Ice Hockey, Kabaddi, Kickball, Korfball, Lacrosse, Mesoamerican ballgame, Netball, Paintball, Petanque, Polo, Roller Hockey, Rounders, Royal Shrovetide Football, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Scuffleball, Sepak Takraw, Shinty, Skittles, Softball, Speedball, Takraw, Tennis Polo, Tchoukball, Throwball, Ultimate, sometimes called 'Ultimate Frisbee', Volleyball, Water polo

Mind sports

Sports that require little or no physical abilities: Bridge, Chess, Checkers (draughts), Poker, Go, Scrabble, Shogi, Dominoes

Water sports: Swimming, Triathlon is usually a combination of swimming, cycling and running, Modern pentathlon includes epee fencing, pistol shooting, swimming, a show jumping course on horseback, and a cross-country run, Rescue swimming is swimming with the goal to rescue other swimmers or the practice thereof, Surf lifesaving is a competitive sport which evolved from the training activities of lifeguards at Australian surf beaches, Water polo is a team ball sport played in water, Synchronized swimming is a hybrid of swimming, gymnastics, and ballet, Fin swimming is swimming with fins, Water aerobics is aerobics in the water,Water gymnastics is gymnastics in the water ,Snorkeling is the practice of swimming at the surface (typically of the sea) being equipped with a mask and a short tube called a snorkel, Diving off springboards or off platforms, A water slide is a slide with water flowing down it, Synchronized diving

Under water: Diving under water, Scuba diving is swimming under water using a (self contained) breathing apparatus, Free-diving is the aim to maximize the depth dived using no breathing apparatus, Apnea is the practice of not breathing for extended times, Underwater rugby is rugby played under water with a ball that has been rendered neutrally buoyant. Breathing is done through a snorkel, and tackling is only allowed if you have the ball or are tackling the one holding it, Underwater hockey is hockey played under water with short wooden curved sticks and a heavy puck. Players wear diving masks, snorkels, and fins, and must surface to breathe while team mates continue the game on the pool bottom, Underwater photography is photography done under water. Numerous contests locally and worldwide are arranged every year. The digital cameras have revolutionized how many divers participate in UW-photography.

On the water Boating is the use of boats, Bodyboarding is similar to surfing, but the board is smaller and the person lies down on the board, Canoeing, Canoe Polo is polo using a canoe, Dragon Boat Racing is a team paddling sport on water, Fishing is the recreation and sport of catching fish, Hydroplane racing, Jet sprint boat racing, Kayaking, Kite surfing on flat water using a kite for propulsion, Motor boating, Offshore powerboat racing, Outrigger Canoe racing, Parasailing where a person is towed behind a vehicle (usually a boat) while attached to a parachute, Rafting, Rowing propels a boat by means of oars, Sailing using the wind for propulsion, Surfing downhill on waves, Splash Padding games on zero depth Splash Pad, Tubing down a river or behind a boat, Wakeboarding is similar to water skiing, but using only one board attached to the feet, Wake skating is similar to wakeboarding, but the board is NOT attached to the feet, Water skiing is using skis to slide over the water while being pulled by a boat or other device, Windsurfing on flat water using wind for propulsion in combination with sails

Read the following sport and fitness metaphors.

I scored an own goal when I told my boss it had only taken me a day to write the report. Now she wants me to write several a week. (made things worse rather than better)

My boss always seems to be moving the goalposts, which makes it very difficult to know what he wants. (changing the rules)

The new EU laws aim to provide a level playing field for all member states. (fair situation)

Hes too young to be in the running for such a job. (seriously considered)

The two main parties in the election are still neck and neck in the opinion polls. (level with each other and equally likely to win)

Politicians often skate around a subject. (dont talk directly about it)

The students all sailed through their exams. (passed very easily)

Rewrite the following sentences using these metaphors.

1. Sarah passed her exams without any difficulty at all.

2. I wish hed get directly to the point.

3. Ive been told that they are seriously considering me for the job of supervisor.

4. Although he meant it as a compliment, Rick didnt improve his chances with Helen when he told her as if she had put on some weight.

5. The situation is hardly fair when 18-year-olds take the same exam as 15-year-olds.

6. Its hard to know what to do when the regulations seem to be constantly changing.

Read and translate into Romanian the following boxing metaphors.

  • not up to scratch -- subpar, not able to do the task at hand (in the old days of boxing, boxers started the round by stepping over a scratch made in the ring, but if a boxer could not do this to keep the round going, he/she was said to be 'not up to scratch')
  • he was rocked by that one -- a fighter was hit by a punch with enough force to be dazed
  • saved by the bell -- rescued from defeat by dint of time running out, an unexpected turn of events, etc.
  • on the ropes -- on the verge of being defeated
  • throw in the towel -- to quit, give up
  • come out swinging -- to throw oneself into an activity or competition
  • in one's corner -- on someone's side, to help or cheer him on
  • down for the count -- knocked out, defeated
  • sucker punch -- hitting an opponent who is off his guard, unfairly taking advantage of a vulnerability
  • hitting below the belt -- a grossly unfair attack (in everyday life, usually of a verbal nature)
  • punch drunk -- dazed or incoherent (originally, from being repeatedly struck, can refer to dazes generally)
  • pull one's punches -- to hold back, withhold full force or attack
  • in the arena -- to be participating, engaged
  • keep your guard up -- to remain alert, on the defensive

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