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SPORTS AND PASTIMES

Тексты и диалоги на английском языке подготовлены В.Ф.Косинским
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SPORTS AND PASTIMES

practise - применять, осуществлять на практике
practice - практика; выполнение, осуществление (на практике)
to put in(to) practice — осуществлять - in practice

Athletic sports include running, boxing, rowing, jumping, fencing, diving, swimming, weight-lifting, putting-the-shot, skating, wrestling, etc. To become proficient in these sports one must practise constantly. They are encouraged in schools, universities and clubs all over the world.

Other popular outdoor sports (field sports) are hunting, shooting, fishing, horse-racing, motor racing and mountain climbing (mountaineering).

The most popular outdoor games are football, cricket, hockey and tennis. Indoor games include billiards, card games, chess, draughts and backgammon.

England is the home of sport. Many of the games now played all over the world originated in Britain. We have a proverb, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. " We do not think that play is more important than work ; we think that Jack will do his work better if he plays as well, so he is encouraged to do both. Most people in England are engaged in sedentary occupations; they would feel that life was hardly worth living if they were unable in the evenings, or at the week-ends, to pursue their favourite sport. Certainly, in ordinary times, the average man is more interested in games and sport than in politics. The average schoolboy may not be able to tell you the name of the Foreign Minister (Minister of Foreign Affairs), but he is able to tell you which team won the football championship last year and who is the present boxing champion.

What is a sportsman? He is one who is interested in sport. But that is only one meaning of the word. Even if a person is not interested in any sport, and has no opportunity or inclination to play any game, he may be called a sportsman if he has something called the "sporting spirit. " This "sporting spirit" is something that the playing of games develops in people, though a person may have it who plays no games. It is the ability to endure hard knocks without getting angry or seeking revenge; the ability to smile in times of danger and hardship, the ability to win without boasting afterwards, and to lose without complaining. A sportsman forgets himself in his loyalty to his own side; he refuses to be disheartened when the game is going against him; he goes on fighting when the battle seems already lost.

Some people hate playing if there is no crowd to applaud them, some play only to win prizes, others are unwilling to play against stronger opponents for fear of defeat. Such people are not sportsmen in the best sense of the word, but if they go on playing they may become sportsmen in time. We should all try to become "good losers," to accept our disappointments cheerfully. Everyone has disappointments at some time or other; sportsmen smile when they occur and refuse to be disheartened by them.

In England, hunting means fox-hunting. It is the sport of the rich; for to be able to hunt regularly one has to keep several horses and pay various subscriptions. The fox is pursued by foxhounds, which are a special breed of hunting dog. They follow the fox by scent. The horsemen and horsewomen follow the hounds and try to keep up with them as they pursue the fox up hill and down dale, over fences and across streams. They are very proud if they are near to the hounds when the fox is killed. This is called being " in at the death. " Generally, a large number of people who do not own horses but who are keen on foxhunting follow on foot. By watching the hounds carefully and cutting corners they, too, sometimes manage to be " in at the death." Riders are often injured, and sometimes even killed, as their horses jump over fences and ditches. A rider may be thrown off and his horse may fall on him; when this happens the rider may receive serious injuries. But it is a fine sight to see the hounds in full pursuit of the swift red fox, followed by the riders, men and women, dressed in brightly coloured hunting clothes and mounted on splendid horses galloping as hard as they can go. It is unlikely that hunting will be discontinued in the near future.

Shooting is an expensive sport, but fishing is practised by thousands of people of moderate means. Some of the fishing streams and rivers are reserved, others are open to the public. It requires great skill and much practice to "land" a heavy fish with a light rod. Fishing is a very quiet and peaceful occupation and is an excellent pastime for those who dislike noise and crowds. Horse racing is practised in many countries of the world. The horses are specially trained and are ridden by professional "jockeys. " The most famous horse race in the world is the Derby, run on Epsom Downs, south of London. Huge sums of money are won and lost by people betting on this and other races. Many people think that all betting is wrong and should be abolished. A few years ago two schoolmasters of Alexandria bought a ticket in a sweepstake on the Derby and were lucky enough to win £10,000; the ticket cost only 20 piastres. The British Government forbids the organising of sweepstakes, which are a kind of lottery. It is true that a few people win, but many thousands lose, most of them poor people who can ill afford to throw away their money in this manner.

The sport of mountain climbing appeals to many adventurous people. As there are few high mountains in Britain, many people go to Switzerland, which is the centre of European mountaineering. Every year there are fatal accidents, but every year finds bold young men and women arriving in Switzerland ready to risk their lives among the high mountain peaks. An expedition was organised some years ago to India to climb Mount Everest, one of the highest mountains in the world. After many weeks of travel a small party came within sight of the summit, and two young men left camp in a supreme effort to conquer the mountain. They were last seen fairly near the top, going slowly, cutting holes in the ice for their feet. A storm came on and hid them from the view of their friends, who because of intense cold and lack of food had to retire. The two men were never seen again and nobody knows what happened to them. When Everest was finally conquered in 1953 by a British expedition, no trace of their bodies was found.

"They put their feet where never feet had trod.
Where do their frozen bodies lie?
On the mountainside how high?
None know but God."

The most popular game in the world is certainly football. A team is composed of a goalkeeper, two backs, three half-backs and five forwards. This is the game that is played in nearly all countries. There is another game called rugby football, so called because it originated at Rugby, a well-known English school. In this game the players may carry the ball. There is also an American kind of football, different again from the other two. Hockey is fairly popular in England but it has not spread much to other countries; nor has cricket, which is sometimes called the national game of England. Tennis, played with stringed rackets on a marked-out court, is an international game. The world championships are decided each year in times of peace in the Davis Cup Competition.

Of the indoor games, billiards requires the most expensive equipment. A good table costs more than a hundred pounds. This is why few private houses possess one; the game is generally played in a club. There are many kinds of card games of pure chance, but most are games of chance and skill. Chance decides which cards a player holds, but a skilful player makes the best use of them. Thousands of people play cards regularly, the most popular game being "bridge. " This is played for money, but only for small stakes generally. The chief aim of the players is not to win money but to pass the time in a very interesting manner. A regular player neither wins nor loses much. By far the most intellectual game is chess, which is several hundred years old. A popular game is draughts, which is played on a board similar to a chess board with twelve "men" on each side. In Britain, backgammon used to be very popular two hundred years ago; now it is seldom played there. It has become a very popular cafe game in the Near East.

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1. Nor was any trace found by the Swiss expedition which reached the top in 1956.


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