British Studies Web Pages



What's in This Issue

Welcome to issue 7 of the British Studies web pages, which is devoted to the theme of 'Sport'. Albert Camus, the French writer and philosopher, once said that he had learned all he knew about life on the football field. Sport may not have the same impact on everyone's life, but there is no denying that sport matters in society today.

We try to give a sense of the importance of sport in Britain today in our sections on definitions and statistics. These show both the role sport plays in people's lives and the way in which it is a part of the economic system.

The intensity of feelings which surrounded the Poland and England European Championship football game in September 1999 illustrated the passions which sport can arouse, and we have captured a taste of this in our feature article 'Being There' (a Manchester United fan's reminiscences on the Treble). Bearing in mind the words of our book reviewer, Andy Hansen, that 'sport is ultimately about getting involved, getting sweaty, out of breath, and physically committed', we have other feature articles on 'Taking Part' (Polish and British participators in various sports), playground games in childhood, and George Mallory, the tragic British hero dying on Mount Everest 'because it was there'.

Sport is cultural also, reflecting the values, and perhaps even the characteristics, of society. A German visitor to Britain in the nineteen twenties claimed that sport in Britain had become 'a rule of life and a national code'. To help us trace the social significance of sport for British society over time we have used sections from Nigel Townson's book on 'The British at Play' to examine ways in which sport interacts with themes such as Politics, Class, Business, Gender, Ethnicity, and the Media. These sections, along with the extensive bibliography from Nigel's book, show how sport is no longer marginalised as an area of sociological enquiry. It is now acknowledged that there are many stories we tell about ourselves both through the games we play and how we play them.

We have plenty of materials in this issue for teachers to use and adapt for their classrooms. As well as feature articles, we look at aspects of the language of sport through sporting idioms and quotations, and provide suggestions for how to use both. There is also a Quiz Corner, with five different kinds of quizzes, and an essay on Language and Sport.

We hope you will enjoy reading about sport and using the materials in your classrooms. As always we welcome your comments on this issue, and your ideas and contributions for future ones.

Produced in Poland by British Council 2003. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.