Exercise 1

A. Now listen to Ron Kantowski, a sports journalist in Las Vegas , talking about a book called Foul Play, and six of the points the author makes. Mark the statements A (agree), HA (half-agree), and D (disagree).

Foul Play

What’s wrong with sports?

In Foul Play, sports journalist Joe Humphreys challenges the idea that sports are a positive influence on athletes, spectators, and the world as a whole.

According to Humphreys:

1   Sport brings out the worst in people, both fans and athletes. It does not improve character or help to develop virtues such as fair play and respect for opponents.

2   Sports don’t make you happy. Spectators as well as athletes have higher than normal levels of stress, anxiety, and hopelessness, especially in relation to professional sports.

3   Sports are like a religion in its ability to “move the masses.”

4   Doping is no worse than any other kind of cheating and really no different from using technology to gain an advantage, e.g., high-tech running shoes.

 It’s ridiculous to expect professional athletes to be role models.

 Sports have too high a profile in the media, often making the headlines in the papers and on TV.

B. Listen again and write a summary of the reasons he gives in answer to each of the interviewer’s questions.

1    Sports teach you to…

      People who do individual sports…

2    Sports can enhance your life because…

      On the other hand…

3    The World Cup is an example of…

      Sports should be entertainment, not…

4    It’s hard to see a difference between…

      Drugs have improved performance less than many things, including…

5    Athletes are only human, and…

      They’re under a lot of pressure from…

6    There’s too much media coverage of…

      But the media are just…



1 D   2 HA   3 A   4 A   5 A   6 A


Suggested answers

 Sports teach you to respect authority.

      People who do individual sports have to be very disciplined.

 Sports can enhance your life because it can give you temporary escape / it gives a sense of family, of community / it gives wonderful memories / it entertains you.

      On the other hand, people can become obsessed.

3   The World Cup is an example of an event where fans become passionate, almost religious about sport.

      Sports should be entertainment, not an obsession.

4   It’s hard to see a difference between using high-tech equipment and taking drugs to help your performance.

      Drugs have improved performance less than many things, including advances in technology, equipment, diet, and education.

5   Athletes are only human, and money and fame affect them.

      They’re under a lot of pressure from the media.

6   There’s too much media coverage of big events in sports.

      But the media are just giving the public what they want.


I = Interviewer, R = Ron Kantowski

I   There’s a deeply held belief that sports teach us valuable lessons about life and ultimately make us better people. In your opinion, is that true?

R   Call me old-fashioned, but I actually do believe that, having played sports myself when I was younger. There are some things that sports can teach you. Just in general terms, it teaches you to respect authority – for example, when there’s a referee in the game, there’s an authority figure. And it teaches you how to get along with others and cooperate. When I was a kid, we would play ball sometimes without supervision, and we’d have to get along by choosing up sides for the teams. When there was an issue with rules, we’d have to get together and come up with a compromise. So, yes, I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned, especially when you’re young, that help you later on in life. Now, when it comes to individual sports, the effect is even more evident than in team sports. It takes an incredible amount of discipline, for example with tennis and golf and track, which aren’t team sports. It’s a matter of getting up early, training on your own, with all the repetition that you need to do, sometimes without supervision. A lot of people who aspire to be professional athletes can’t afford a trainer or a coach, especially when they’re young. So the discipline involved in individual sports is a valuable lesson in life as well.

I   OK. On the whole, would you say that sports bring about more happiness or unhappiness in the world?

R   Well, as long as there’s some perspective there, and you look at sports as a sort of a temporary escape from real life, as entertainment – like going to a movie – if you have that kind of perspective, then I think sports can enhance your life. And life is better with diversions. With sports, a lot of people look forward to following their teams: it gives them a sense of family, a sense of community, and some wonderful memories. And as entertainment, sports have tremendous value. But again, there has to be some perspective. When you go past the level of sports as entertainment, as diversion, as a pastime, when it gets into the obsession area, then it’s probably not a good thing. People who get too carried away by whether their team wins or loses are not in a healthy situation. As long as you can look at sports as a diversion, it’s fine. Part of the secret of life, and this certainly applies to sports, is to do it in moderation, and being a sports fan is no different. But overall, I would say sports create a great deal of happiness.

I   So, do you think there’s a sense that sports have replaced religion in modern society?

R   That’s a great question. Probably for a lot of people, it has. I’m thinking of some of these major sporting events that draw worldwide interest, like the World Cup, for instance. You see the passion of the fans, and I think that passion is wonderful, as long as it doesn’t carry over into fanatical levels. Again, we get back to that obsession thing, and once you’ve crossed that line where sports are no longer just entertainment, diversion, and pastime – when it crosses the line, then yes, it can border on religion for a lot of people.

 OK. Do you think there’s any difference between using technology to gain an advantage, I don’t know, for example high-tech swimsuits, and doping, I mean taking performance enhancing drugs?

R   That’s a profound question. I think if you’re really honest about it, it’s hard to see the difference. I mean, if you think about a sport like tennis or maybe golf, and you consider the advances in technology in the equipment, and if you go back to the 1930s and 1940s and think about the small wooden tennis racquets and the wooden golf clubs. If those players had had today’s equipment in their hands, it would have made a huge difference in their game, a bigger impact on their game than performance-enhancing drugs! The advances in technology have really done more to increase performance than drugs have. We’re all quick to criticize, and there’s a stigma attached to using drugs that doesn’t exist with the equipment, but in a lot of ways they’re similar. I think equipment, technology, diet, and education – all those things have done more to enhance athletic prowess and performance than drugs.

I   We expect athletes to be positive role models. Is there any reason why we should?

R   Years ago, people looked up to athletes, and they were our heroes. But there’s no reason why they should be role models – they’re in the public eye more than others, but they’re human, like everyone else. All the money and adulation is difficult for these athletes to handle, paradoxically. Money and fame tend to bring down a lot of celebrities, like actors and rock stars, not just athletes. There’s a lot of temptation and money involved that you don’t see in other professions. Also, there’s more pressure nowadays, with the way the media has changed, and with social media. Everyone is looking for a sensational story, and athletes are more prone to being caught up in scandals than ever before. If it were up to me, parents and teachers, people like that, they would be the real role models.

I   Right. Do sports occupy a disproportionately high place in the media and have we lost all sense of proportion when it comes to sports?

R   There is a disproportionate amount of interest in sports. There’s an insane amount of hype around some of these big events, like the Super Bowl and the World Cup. The media knows that there’s a captive audience, and more is better! You know, the first Super Bowl didn’t even sell out, yet in today’s world it’s considered the most important event you can imagine, so it just shows how perspectives have shifted. But the media reflects interest more than they create it – they’re giving the public what they want. I’m not sure the media is totally to blame, either; it’s just a form of economics.

Exercise 2

A. Listen to a radio program about children and sports. Why are doctors seeing more sports-related injuries in young teens and adolescents?

B. Listen again and complete the summary.

Dr. Allston Stubbs an orthopedist in North Carolina, says he’s seen an increase in sports overuse injuries. He says this is happening because young kids are playing sports before their 1_________ have fully developed. While some people believe it’s 2_________ to enroll young children in sports programs, others think kids should focus on general play instead of specific sports 3_________. Coach Andy Mauer encourages his young rowers to develop a team 4_________ or cheer before actually practicing skills on the water. Some tips for parents thinking about enrolling their children in team sports include: staying away from 5_________ because it can be stressful for young children, signing your children up for different sports throughout the year to avoid 6_________, letting your kids have some 7_________ from sports, and not worrying about your children 8_________ if they don’t play sports at a young age.



Doctors are seeing more sports related injuries in young teens and adolescents because kids are starting sports at a very young age.


1 bones   2 beneficial   3 skills   4 dance

5 competition   6 injuries and boredom

7 down time   8 missing out


Host   A question that many parents ask themselves is when they should introduce their children to playing a sport. If Dr. Allston Stubbs, an orthopedist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston Salem, North Carolina is to be believed, the answer is: the longer you can wait to enroll your child in a sports program, the better. Dr. Stubbs says he’s seen a significant increase in overuse injuries from sports among adolescents and preteens.

Dr. Stubbs   Kids are coming in with major shoulder, knee, and hip problems, including pulled or torn ACLs (strong bands of tissue that connect bones). And it’s in large part due to the fact that kids are starting sports at a very young age when their bones are still developing.

Host   The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that each year, approximately 3.5 million kids aged 14 and younger undergo some kind of medical treatment for sports overuse injuries. While some parents and coaches believe that enrolling young kids in sports programs has benefits, many experts disagree, preferring that kids focus on general movement and play, rather than specific sports skills. Coach Andy Mauer agrees.

Coach   I had a group of young rowers uh that I coached recently and I found myself spending a lot of time on the land before we went out on the water uh just doing things like developing a team dance or a cheer, and then we would talk about rowing and I would go over a skill on the land and they were all in a good mood, and then we would go out on the water and practice that skill, and they made a lot of improvements without it being onerous.

Host   Here are a few tips if you’re thinking about signing your child up for a sport.

Stay away from competition: it can be stressful for children and drive them away from sports. The focus should be on fun at this point in their young lives.

Be well-rounded: sign your children up for different kinds of sports throughout the year like swimming in the fall, volleyball in the winter, and rowing in the spring, to avoid injuries and boredom.

Take time off: Kids don’t always need to be involved in sports. It’s OK to let your kids have some down time.

Finally, don’t feel pressure: Your child won’t miss out if they aren’t signed up for spring swimming or fall soccer. Brooke de Lenche, author of “Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports” concurs.

Brooke   Studies have shown that kids who take sports and exercise classes as preschoolers are no more likely to be involved in high school sports than kids who don’t.

Host   Here’s the deal: If you and your child enjoy arriving at the soccer field at 8:30 in the morning, go for it! If not, there’s no need to worry about it!

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