Even if they are not taking part or watching, British people like to be involved in sport. They can do this by placing bets on future results. Gambling is widespread throughout all social classes. It is so basic to sport that the word 'sportsman' used to be a synonym for 'gambler'.
When, in 1993, the starting procedure for the Grand National did not work properly, so that the race could not take place, it was widely regarded as a national disaster. The £70 million which had been gambled on the result (that's more than a pound for each man, woman and child in the country!) all had to be given back.
Every year, billions of pounds are bet on horse races. So well-known is this activity that everybody in the country, even those with no interest in horse-racing, would understand the meaning of a question such as 'who won the 2.30 at Chester?' (Which horse won the race that was scheduled to take place at half past two today at the Chester racecourse? The questioner probably wants to know because he or she has gambled some money on the result.) The central role of horse-racing in gambling is also shown by one of the names used to denote companies and individuals whose business it is to take bets. Although these are generally known as 'bookmakers', they sometimes call themselves 'turf accountants' ('turf is a word for ground where grass grows);
Apart from the horses and the dogs, the most popular form of gambling connected with sports is the football pools. Every week, more than ten million people stake a small sum on the results of Saturday's professional matches. Another popular type of gambling, stereotypically for middle-aged working class women, is bingo.
Nonconformist religious groups traditionally frown upon gambling and their disapproval has had some influence. Perhaps this is why Britain did not have a national lottery until 1994. But if people want to gamble, then they will. For instance, before the national lottery started, the British gambled £250,000 on which company would be given the licence to run it! The country's big bookmakers are willing to offer odds on almost anything at all if asked. Who will be the next Labour party leader? Will it rain during the Wimbledon tennis tournament? Will it snow on Christmas Day? All of these offer opportunities for 'a flutter'.
Apropos of the Wimbledon tennis tournament: Wimbledon is a place to which every tennis-player aspire. And I want to write some words about it.
People all over the world know Wimbledon as the centre of lawn tennis. But most people do not know that it was famous for another game before tennis was invented. Wimbledon is now a part of Greater London. In 1874 it was a country village, but it had a railway station and it was the home of the All-England Croquet Club. The Club had been there since 1864. A lot of people played croquet in England at that time and enjoyed it, but the national championships did not attract many spectators. So the Club had very little money, and the members were looking for ways of getting some. "This new game of lawn tennis seems to have plenty of action, and people like watching it," they thought. "Shall we allow people to play lawn tennis on some of our beautiful croquet lawns?"
Реферат опубликован: 27/06/2007