The British are a sport-loving nation. Cricket, soccer, rugby, tennis, squash, table tennis, badminton, canoeing and snooker were all invented in Britain. The first rules for such sports as boxing, golf, hockey, yachting and horse-racing also originated from Britain. The most popular sports that people take part in, rather than watching, are angling, snooker and darts.
Cricket is very much the English game. A match can take five days – and end in a draw. A form of cricket was being played 250 years ago.
Football began as a contest between neighboring villages – with no limit to the number on each side, no fixe pitch and almost no rules. The Football Association drew up the rules of the modern game in 1863 and in 1888 12 clubs joined together to form the first Football League. England won the World Cup in 1966. Rugby and football became two separate sports when the rules laid down by the Football Association said that only the goalkeeper could handle the ball. Two kinds of rugby are played in Britain. Rugby Union is played by amateurs in teams of 15 in the south of England and in Wales (where it is the national sport). Rugby League is played by professionals in teams of 13 in the north of England.
Golf was probably invented in Holland, but has been played in Scotland for at least 400 years. At first, it was played with balls made of wood, then of leather stuffed with feathers. The first rules for tennis were drawn up by the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club when it held its first tournament in the London suburb of Wimbledon in 1877. Wimbledon is still the world’s most famous tennis event.
There are a lot of sports and games which are popular both among youngsters and gown-ups. 25 millions of grownup people take part in sports. Sports is one of the programme of all state and private schools and universities. Nearly of schools have sports grounds and swimming pools. Indeed, sports is a part of everyday life in Britain.