Athletic sports include running, boxing, rowing, jumping, fencing, diving, swimming, weightlifting, putting-the-shot, skating, wrestling, etc. To become proficient in these sports one must practise constanly. They are encouraged in schools, universities and clubs all over the world.
England is the home of sport. Many of games now played all over the world originated in Britain. They have a proverb, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." They do not think that play is more important than work; they think that Jack will do his work better if he plays as well, so he is encouraged to do both. Most people in England are engaged in sedentary occupations; they would feel that life was hardly worth living if they were unable in the evenings, or at the week-ends, to pursue their favourite sport. Certainly, in ordinary times, the average man is more interested in games and sport than in politics. The average schoolboy may not be able to tell you the name of the Foreign Minister, but he is able to tell you which team won the football championchip last year and who is the present boxing champion.
What is a sportsman? He is one who is interested in sport. But that is only one meaning of the word. Even if a person is not interested in any sport, and has no opportunity or inclination to play any game, he may be called a sportsman if he has something called the "sporting spirit." This "sporting spirit" is something that the playing of games develops in people, though a person may have it who plays no games. It is the ability to endure hard knocks without getting angry or seeking revenge; the ability to smile in times of danger and hardship, the ability to win without boasting afterwards, and to lose without complaining. A sportsman forgets himself in his loyality to his own side; he refuses to be disheartened when the game is going gainst him; he goes on fighting when the battle seems already lost.
Some people hate playing if there is no crowd to applaud them, some play only to win prizes, others are unwilling to play against stronger opponents for fear of defeat. Such people are not sportsmen in the best sense of the word, but if they go on playing they may become sportsmen in time. We should all try to become "good losers", to accept our disappointments at some time or other; sportsmen smile when they occur and refuse to be disheartened by them.
Fishing is practised by thousands of people of moderate means. Some of the fishing streams and rivers are reserved, others are open to the public. It requires great skill and much practice to "land" a heavy fish with a light rod. Fishing is a very quiet and peacful occupation and is an excellent pastime for those who dislike noise and crowds. Horse racing is practised in many countries of the world. The horses are specially trained and are ridden by professional "jockeys". The most famous horse race in the world is the Derby, run on Epsom Downs, south of London. Huge sums of money are won and lost by people betting on this and other races. Many people think that all betting is wrong and should be abolished. A few years ago two schoolmasters of Alexandria bought a ticket in a sweepstake on the Derby nad were lucjy enough to win -10000; the ticket cost only 20 piastres. The British Government forbids the organising of weepstakes, which are a kind of lottery. It is true that a few people who can ill afford to throw away their money in this manner.
The most popular game in the world is certainly football. A team is composed of a goalkeeper, two backs, three half-backs and five forwards. This is the game that is played nearly all countries. A popular game is draughts, which is played on a board similar to a chess board with twelve "men" on each side. In Britain, backgammon used to be very popular two hundred years ago; now it is seldom played there. It has become a very popular cafe game in the Near East.
In our times professional sport is connected with vast sums of money. Sportsmen are insured - today's professional sport mean risk of getting injured; some players brake the rules taking sterids, although they realize of consequences (for example: live long disqualification) because they want to win - win big money. Others cheats, sells the matches.
If the Olimpic Games will be held in some country - as a great many people will be visiting that country, the goverment will be building new hotels, an immense stadium, and a fine new swimming pool. They will also be building new roads and a specialy railwayline. The Games will be held just outside the capital and the whole area will be called "Olimpic City" - it is all for the money.