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"A Good Walk Spoiled" - Sporting Quotations

The famous quotation above is the writer Mark Twain's definition of golf. Sport has inspired other quotations from the famous and not so famous; some provocative, some amusing, and others thought provoking. Below are some ideas as to how you might use quotations in your classrooms.


a). Look at the definitions below and try to guess which sport or game is being discussed.

  1. the only game where you can actually put on weight while playing
  2. for people who aren't intelligent enough to watch breakfast television
  3. as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency
  4. the sport of drowning worms
  5. like having one person throw a bucket of water over you while another hits you with a baseball bat
  6. less of a sport these days than a commercial break doing 150mph
  7. show-business with blood
  8. a form of disorderly conduct in which the score is kept
  9. the best exercise to lose weight - skipping lunch, skipping dinner
  10. men in ugly pants, walking

b). Below are the sports which are being defined. Now try to match the sport with the definition.

  1. Golf is....
  2. Boxing is....
  3. Jogging is....
  4. Grand prix driving is....
  5. Cricket is....
  6. Fishing is.....
  7. Driving a powerboat is.....
  8. Ice hockey is......
  9. Skipping is....
  10. Chess is...

The correct sports and definitions are shown here


a). In the following sentences, a word or phrase is missing. Try to guess the missing word/words.

  1. Sport is the only entertainment where, no matter how many times you go back, you never know the ________ (Neil Simon)
  2. In his prime the boxer Joe Bugner had the ________ of a Greek statue but he had fewer moves (Hugh McIIvanney, sportswriter)
  3. The 1980 Grand National was a tremendous race with 4 finishers out of thirty starters, so that by the end there were far more BBC commentators than ________ (Clive James, columnist)
  4. A ________ is a hard rubber disk that hockey players strike when they can't hit each other (Jimmy Cannon)
  5. We do have the greatest football fans in the world, but I've never seen a fan score a ________ (Jock Stein, former Scotland Manager)
  6. On Scotland's football game in San Marino - We've been playing for an hour and it's just occurred to me that we're drawing 0-0 with a ________ (Ian Archer, radio commentator)
  7. The game of basketball is too long. The season is too long, and the ________ are too long (Jack Dolph)
  8. (Talking about skiing) I do not participate in any sport with an ________ at the bottom of the hill (Erma Brombeck)
  9. A bookie* is just a ________ who lets you use your own hands (Henry Morgan)
  10. An ________ is a man who spends his rainy days sitting around on muddy banks of rivers because his wife won't let him do it at home (Irish Times)

(* osoba która przyjmuje zakłady)

b). Now choose the most appropriate word (or words) from the box below to put into the gaps in the sentences above. You can use each one only once.

Mountain top; physique; pickpocket; horses; ending; puck; goal; players; angler; ambulance;

The correct answers are here


Match the halves of the sentences

  1. If you want to know what you'll look like in ten years....
  2. The English country gentleman galloping after a fox......
  3. If God had intended a round of golf to take more than three hours....
  4. The relationship between the Welsh and the English is based on trust and understanding...
  5. Eddie Edwards doesn't fly....
  6. Some people think football is a matter of life and death.....
  7. Support means getting behind the team through thick and thin.....
  8. I believe that professional wrestling is clean…
  1. …but I can assure them it is much more serious than that (Bill Shankly)
  2. ...Newcastle fans have, in the last few years, been through thin and thin. - Kevin Keegan
  3. ...look in the mirror after you've run a marathon. (Jeff Scaff)
  4. …and everything else in the world is fixed (Frank Deford)
  5. ....the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable (Oscar Wilde)
  6. ....He would not have invented Sunday lunch (Jimmy Hill)
  7. .....they don't trust us and we don't understand them. (Dudley Wood)
  8. ....he just drops out of the sky (Rob McCormack)

The correct answers are here


There are numerous language activities which can be done with quotations, or indeed any short text. Twelve general classroom procedures are reproduced below from the excellent resource book for teachers by Alan Maley, 'Short and Sweet' (Maley, A. Short and Sweet: Short Texts and How to Use Them, Volume 1, 1994 Penguin, ISBN 014 081383 7)

Sample Quotation: 'A bookie is just a pickpocket who lets you use your own hands'

  1. Expansion: Adding clauses, parts of speech, sentences, comments, etc., either at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the text.
  2. E.g. Adjectives - A clever bookie is just a cruel pickpocket who lets you use your own stupid hands'

    Clauses - A bookie, I'm afraid to say, is just a pickpocket, working within the law, who lets you use your own hands

  3. Reduction: Removing items to make the sentence shorter.
  4. E.g. Telegram or Newspaper headline language - 'Bookies pickpocket'

  5. Media Transfer: Turning the text into a different medium such as a visual, a letter, a story, an advertising slogan, etc.
  6. E.g. Advertising slogan - Why go through the inconvenience of having your pockets picked when you can do it yourself by visiting the bookie!

  7. Matching: Match with other texts, visuals, etc.
  8. E.g. Matching quotations connected with various sports.

  9. Selection/Ranking: Choosing from a group of quotations for a particular purpose, or ranking the quotations according to certain criteria
  10. E.g. the funniest, the truest, etc

  11. Comparison/Contrast:of words, expressions, structures, facts, ideas in a number of quotations
  12. E.g. Similar structure - A bookie is, An angler is, etc.

  13. Reconstruction: Restoring incomplete parts to a whole
  14. E.g. Gap fill as in Activity 2 above, or reconstructing the sentence (or possible sentences) from jumbled words:

    who pickpocket your is use a hands just bookie you own lets a

  15. Reformulation: Keeping the message, but expressing it in another way, such as a poem (similar to Media Transfer above)
  16. E.g. Making the meaning clear - Betting is a complete waste of money and is similar to having your money stolen from you

  17. Interpretation: Discussing the meaning and relating it to experience
  18. E.g. Do you agree that betting is a waste of money; do you ever bet on anything, etc.

  19. Creating Text: Using the quotation as a starting point for writing
  20. E.g. Write your own sport definitions, Football is…, Tennis is…, etc.

  21. Analysis: Examining the quotation/quotations from a language perspective
  22. E.g. Looking at defining relative clauses, 'is a man who…'

  23. Project Work: Using the text as a starting point for a project
  24. E.g. Devising and administering questionnaires about attitudes to sport.

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