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Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks
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Every four years, soccer teams around the world compete for the World Cup. The World Cup competition started in 1930. People in more than 140 countries around the world play football. It is the national sport of most European and Latin American countries. Soccer is now the world’s most popular sport!
In the UK most football teams play their main games on a Saturday, the teams are divided up into leagues depending on how good they are. The best teams are in the Premier Division, Division 1, then Division 2, depending upon there performance. Most people support their local team, however the biggest team in England is Manchester United.
Football has become very commercialised. Players are paid a lot of money, and football clubs are run as a business. They make money from holding events such as parties and business meetings within the football grounds.
Football was developed into the game of basketball in 1891. Basketball was invented in America and was developed as a game that students could play indoors during bad weather.
The History of Rugby:
During a football match at a school in England called Rugby School of England in 1823, a student picked up the ball in his hands and ran with it. This seemed very interesting at the time, and lead to the creation of the sport rugby. Cambridge University adopted the game, popularized it and made local rules. The game grew popular at area schools and in 1871, ten years after the common rules of soccer were set, the first Rugby Union was founded in London and firm rules of the game were established.
In 1895 rugby clubs in northern England called for compensation of lost wages for players. The Rugby League was founded as a result and a 13-player game with altered rules were created for professionals.
Rugby spread across the globe and competition emerged between countries. In the United States, the lack of precise rules in the game led the President of America, Theodore Roosevelt to insist on reform of the game to lower the violence. The English rules of rugby died out and the game of American football was born.
Rugby continued elsewhere, mainly in Britain, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. The sport continues to grow and now played in over 80 countries worldwide.
Goal posts similar to those used in American football and shaped in the form of an "H" stand on the goal line at opposite ends of the field, at the beginning of each try zone.
The length of play is very flexible and determined by the level of play but is usually around an hour to an hour and a half of playing time. The time is divided into two halves, with usually only a 5 minute half time. Substitutions or time-outs are not allowed. Play pauses for penalties, scores, when the ball goes out of touch. The game is not stopped for injuries until the ball is out of play.
Players do not wear any padding or protection except for a mouth guard. The ball comes in many sizes. It is shaped like an American football, but is larger. The referee controls the game and sees that the players maintain good conduct and obey the laws of rugby. There is only one referee and that person is the only judge, timekeeper and score keeper.
15 people play at a time per side, each of which have specific duties as a player. Players are usually talked about in respect to two categories. Members of the first group are called the forwards, or the pack, and consist of the first eight players. Members of the second group are called the backs, and consist of the remaining players. Sometimes the scrum half, number 9, is considered part of either group.
The objective of the game is to gain more points than the opposing team within the allotted time of play. A tie is called if the scores are equal at the end of play. A try is scored when a player places the ball in the opposition's goal area. It is counted as 5 points and can be converted to an additional 2 points with a successful place kick made from a line perpendicular to the point at which the ball was scored. A goal can also be scored through a penalty with a free kick or a drop kick from the field of play. A goal counts as 3 points.
It seems clear that the English game originated in the sheep-rearing country of the South East, where the short grass of the downland pastures made it possible to bowl a ball of wool or rags at a target. That target was usually the wicket-gate of the sheep pasture, which was defended with a bat in the form of a shepherd's crooked staff.
By the 17th century the game was quite popular as a rough rural pastime, but in the following century the leisure classes took up the sport, particularly in Sussex, Kent, and London. The first organized match was held in London, in 1730. By the middle of the 18th century cricket was being played at every level of society, from village greens to wealthy estates. However, the game lacked a full set of rules.
In 1835 the game of cricket was given its first formal laws, which still stand largely intact today. Major cricket matches can last as long as 5 days, with each side having two "innings", or turns at bat. A recent alternative to the longer matches are "limited over" matches. These events may take a relatively short 3-5 hours during the course of one day.
The game of cricket is now played worldwide, where the power of the game has moved from England to nations such as South Africa, Australia, India, Pakistan, and the West Indies. In England the major focus of the game is the county championships, with both four-day and one-day competitions running simultaneously during the summer months. But traditional village cricket is still played in towns and villages all across the UK.
Sir Neville Chamberlain, a British officer stationed in India often played a game called Pyramids in which 15 red balls were placed in a triangle, with the ball at the apex of the triangle placed on a pyramid spot on the table. Chamberlain decided to combine Pyramids red balls with the black and colored balls used in Black Pool and decided to call the game snooker. With the return of the soldiers to England, snooker arrived and became very popular.
Playing pool became questionable when tables were installed in horse racing betting rooms, since they were known to be hangouts for gamblers during the early 1920s and 1930s
Popular in France during the early 14th century, Louis XI built the first billiard table, made of oak. A green cloth was used to simulate grass. Like the game played outdoors, at that time, an arch was placed at one end of the table and a pin at the other end. To keep the balls from rolling off the table, rails were installed around the table top. These rails were soon replaced with cushions filled with flock or down, and around 1835 replaced with rubber-filled cushions. Vulcanized rubber was used in 1845 to fill the cushions and to this day remains an important part of the table. The bed of the table was made from slate which is still used today.
Wooden boxes were added to the table and today these pockets are made of net. Cues were added to the game in the 1730s.
On of England's most celebrated players, John Roberts Jr., traveled to India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and America in the late 1800s spreading the word and playing billiards. While in India, Roberts opened a factory to make billiard tables and was employed to be a professional billiards player.
The first balls were made of wood. In the early 1800s ivory was used, which allowed the balls to make a clicking sound when they touched each other. Around 1870, someone came up with synthetic plastic balls and they have been in use till today.
In the UK Horse Racing is nearly as popular as football. The main attraction of horse racing is betting, or gambling on horses to win. The competitive racing of horses began about 4000 B.C. In Britain, in 200 AD, racing began using horses from the Roman invaders' stock. These early war horses were selectively bred for their qualities of strength, power, courage and speed. They were much sought after and desired by British royalty, noblemen and aristocrats. In the 16th century, the English, French and Italian royalty began importing horses to improve their breeding and racing stock.
Racing became the sole sport of noblemen. By the 17th century there were a dozen British race tracks that had flat-racing events. The idea that horse racing was only for the wealthy continued up to the 1700's. The law stated that only "Gentlemen," implying the wealthy, were legally allowed to race. Horse racing and wagering became a popular diversion of European nobility. During the 1700's, racecourses became common in England. To control the sport, the Jockey Club was formed in 1750, which subsequently established standards, rules and regulations. Meanwhile breeders endeavored to produce even faster animals.
Amateur fights consist of 3 rounds, professional fights from 4 to 15 rounds. The recognized length of championship fights is 12 rounds. In most countries, professional boxing is the more popular version, but the rules vary because there is no true governing body.
In all boxing, however, winners are determined either by a decision of the judges (who keep points or round victors on a scorecard as the fight progresses), the referee, or both. The winner also may be decided by a knockout, in which one rival is sent to the floor by a punch and cannot get up within 10 seconds. A doctor or referee can declare the boxer injured or defenseless even if there is no knockdown. A tied or even match is ruled a draw.
The boxing ring is actually a square, and boxing gloves have been worn by boxers as a general practice since 1892 and are made of leather.
Boxing is known to have been used in the Olympic Games in about 688 BC. Boxing became a workingman's sport during the Industrial Revolution as prizefights attracted participants and spectators from the working class. Organization was minimal at first, and the bouts of those eras resembled street fights more than modern boxing.
In 1866 there was a new set of rules. These rules limited the number of 3-minute rounds, and made the use of gloves mandatory. With the growing popularity of boxing, weight classes other than the unlimited heavyweights emerged. These classes became popular as world championships were held at the new weights. Currently, there are eight major professional divisions: flyweight (up to 112 lb/50.8 kg); bantamweight (118 lb/53.5 kg); featherweight (126 lb/57.2 kg); lightweight (135 lb/61.2 kg); welterweight (147 lb/66.7 kg); middleweight (160 lb/72.6 kg); light heavyweight (175 lb/79.4 kg); and heavyweight (unlimited).
Because of its violent nature and its identification with betting, boxing has had a controversial history. There have been periodic efforts to outlaw the sport with many people calling for a ban on all boxing.
In Britain, the big events include the Boat Race, the Grand National & the Derby (horse races), the Five Nations (rugby) the FA Cup Final (football), the Test Match (cricket) and Wimbledon (tennis).