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Reading skills - SPORT IN BRITAIN

Klausimas #1

     Even if you are not interested in sport itself, it is useful to know something about that important part of British life. There are three major sports in Britain.
     1. Football, also known as "soccer".
     2. Cricket, a strange game that few foreigners like or can even understand.
     3. Rugby, also known sometimes as "football".
    Of these, "football" or "soccer" is most popular. During the football season, one of the most important things on television is the football match shown on the BBC on Saturday evenings around ten o'clock. On Saturday afternoons, the big sports' day in Britain, some football grounds will have crowds of more than 40,000. Professional teams are organized into four divisions in England and Wales. Scotland has its own divisions. The bottom three teams or "clubs" of the First Division at the end of the season go into the Second Division. The top three teams of the Second Division go into the First They are "promoted". The same thing happens between the Second and Third Divisions.
     Recently football had been getting less popular. The crowds are not so big. Some clubs are always irn financial trouble. It is said that one reason for this is "violence on and off the field". Players tackle each other very hard. They sometimes get into fights. Crowds of young spectators also get into fights. After some matches shop windows near the grounds are smashed up. So are some of the trains that carry football crowds.
     The only game that comes anywhere near to challenging the popularity of football is rugby. It too is organized on a national scale and there are also numerous local leagues. Rugby is a game that is played rather than watched, however it does not attract anything like the same number of spectators as football.
     Cricket seems more paceful. A man with a small ball in his hand runs up to a spot and throws it. A few yards away a man with a bat, called a batsman, tries to hit it. The ball bounces in front of him. Sometimes it bounces up and hits him in the face. It is a very hard ball, and some batsmen have lost a few teeth this way or have had broken jaws. Cricket is played in the summer.
     The story is told of an American arriving in Britain for the first time. At Victoria Station he saw newspapers with headlines like "Great Crisis for England" and 'England's Position Hopeless". He thought that a war is about to begin or that there was another great economic crisis. In fact, the newspaper headlines were all about a test match being played between England and Australia.

(from "Viewpoints" by Roger Scott, Roy Kingsbury, 1976)

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