Pre-reading activities
1. Study the vocabulary:
ancestor – any of the people from whom sb is descended, more remote than his
grandparents (předek, předchůdce)
to chase – run after in order to catch (honit, pronásledovat)
attempt – an effort to do something (pokus)
tool – instrument held in the hand and used for working on sth (nástroj, nářadí)
to gather – come or bring sth together in one place (shromáždit, sbírat)
patient – able to wait for a long time without becoming angry (trpělivý)
thrill – a sudden feeling of being very excited or pleased (nadšení, vzrušení)
violent – involving the use of physical force (násilný)
spectacle – an unusual and impressive event or sight (podívaná)
civic – relating to the people who live in a town or city as citizens (občanský)
purpose – the aim that someone wants to achieve (účel, záměr)
2. What sports are mentioned in the passage?
It is possible to search for the origins of contemporary sports in primitive matters
of survival. The methods we once used for getting food have changed, but we can still
identify them in sport disciplines such as running and throwing. They are direct
followers of our ancestors´ chase of animals and their attempts to kill them with
missiles. Some sport events are associated with hunting, modern pentathlon (riding,
fencing, shooting, swimming, and running) being the clearest example. Tools that were
once used for killing have been transformed into symbolic instruments like bats,
rackets, and clubs.
Hunting and gathering had been dominant for more than 2 million years. During that
period the lifestyle became a part of our character. Chasing and killing were everyday
practice. The qualities of courage, skill, and the inclination to risk were not heroic but
simply human and necessary for survival.
The coming of farming brought about a revolutionary change in the human way of
living – courage and hunting skills were no longer needed. Instead, the successful farmer
needed to be patient, responsible and regular. It made far more sense to domesticate
and feed animals than to hunt them, however, the desire for the thrill of hunting
remained. Hunting was no longer necessary but people did it for pleasure and
excitement. In this way, people only PLAYED at hunting.
The creation of ancient city-states and building stadia enabled the audience to see
thrilling episodes of violent action – the element of SPECTACLE was introduced.
Greek civilisation is probably the first culture to integrate sports, or rather
competition, into civic life. Athletic excellence in competition was a success of heroic,
mythical proportions. The Greek ambition was to win and very little attention was paid
to such things as “fairness“. Greeks were also very keen on physical perfection and part
of the purpose of athletic competition was to show the muscular bodies of men, but not
women. One of the ideals of Greek games was kalos kai agathos, meaning the“good and
beautiful man“.
The games were probably less important as a spectacle than they were as a point
around which to organize training. Physical fitness and strength were important military
attributes, and so the process was organised to produce warriors as much as sports
Decide whether these statements are true or false:
1. Many sports look similar to the methods people once used for getting food.
2. When people started farming and domesticating animals, they did not want to hunt
and kill any more.
3. Sport came into existence when people became farmers.
4. The best Greek athletes were considered to be chosen by gods.
5. The games in ancient Greece were organised to train sportsmen.
1. Can you think of latent purposes of sport in our society?
2. Is there such a thing as a “competitive instinct“?
3. Is it fair to describe ancient competitions as “sports“?