Back home

Academic Word List: Exercise 34

Read the following text, paying particular attention to the highlighted words.

Commercialism and Sport

It is becoming commonplace to think of sport as a "leisure industry". In recent years there have certainly been dramatic moves to open sport up to the forces of the market. The maximum wage and the retain-and-transfer system in football, and the distinction between gentlemen and players in cricket has been scrapped. Tennis also abandoned the amateur and professional labels and simply called all competitors "players" from 1967. Most recently a change of heart on the part of the athletics authorities now enables top competitors to earn very large sums which are held in "trust funds". This technicality permits athletes to remain "amateurs". Only Rugby Union holds out against the commercial tide despite widespread speculation about covert payments to players. Cricket, the game of the British amateur par excellence, is now sponsored by tobacco firms and insurance companies whilst footballers advertise everything from double-glazing to Guinness on their shirts. The football league was recently sponsored by a Japanese camera manufacturer whose name had to be repeated when publishing or broadcasting results. A newspaper and now a bank have since taken over. In return for media coverage and the "clean" image of sport, sponsors are prepared to provide big injections of cash. This new rush to make profits from sport provides a contemporary context against which to measure the earlier degree of commercialisation. To what extent were large profits made from spectator sports and what kind of earnings and working conditions could a professional sportsman expect? What role have newspapers, the radio, and television played in sport? This leads us to the composition and behaviour of sports crowds, especially at football matches and the current debate about the reasons for hooliganism. How far are money and the media responsible for the misbehaviour of football supporters? Or is aggression leading to violence endemic in sport and sports spectators? competent, phlegmatic Englishman reading the Oxford Book of Greek Verse while organising supplies and technical support with a minimum of fuss. There was still hope for Britain if the old qualities of stoicism and the knack of handling "native" races could be combined with the scientific and management skills needed in the modern world.

Another sporting triumph followed hard upon the conquest of Everest and gave added reassurance to the nation, especially those steeped in the amateur spirit for whom the demolition of English professional football by Puskas and the Hungarians was not a matter for much regret. On 6 May 1954 at the small Iffley Road stadium in Oxford, Roger Bannister, a medical student at the University, broke The four-minute mile with the help of a couple of friends, Chris Brasher and Christopher Chataway. Despite the apparent informality of the occasion, this was no glorious undergraduate fluke. The sub-four-minute mile was a superbly planned and executed achievement. The record was broken by scientific training and pacing in which two first-class athletes sacrificed themselves to permit Bannister to break the record. A blend of the old virtues and the new, which the public seemed to understand and appreciate, united these two very different achievements. Bannister and Hunt gave the English hope for the future within the British Isles and more importantly in the wider post-imperial world. Not since a bony young Yorkshireman, Len Hutton, batted into a third day in August 1938 against Bradman's Australia to pass the Don's record score for a test match had the British known such transcendent moments of self-belief through sport. Hutton, later to become the first professional captain of England and knighted in 1956, joined the ranks of those who had to embody the hopes and expectations of an England creaking under the weight of its industrial and imperial past, but whose sense of destiny was still quite strong.

(Sport and the British: A Modern History by Richard Holt)

Now try the exercises. Exercise a


Back to AWL Exercises: Contents