Sports and Leisure Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2 (page 2)
Sports and Leisure Critical Reading
Questions 1–9 are based on the following passage.
This passage details the life and career of Althea Gibson, an African-American pioneer in the sport of tennis.
Today, watching Venus and Serena Williams dominate the sport of women's tennis with their talent and flair, it is hard to imagine that just over fifty years ago African-American tennis players were barred from competing on the grandest stages of their sport. Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947, but the walls that kept African-Americans from playing professional sports did not come tumbling down overnight. Almost four years passed from Jackie Robinson's major league debut until a female African-American made a similar impact upon the sport of women's tennis. That woman's name was Althea Gibson.
Althea Gibson was born on a cotton farm on August 25, 1927, in Silver, South Carolina. The early stages of the Great Depression forced her sharecropper father to move the family from the bucolic Silver to the urban bustle of New York City when she was just three years old. As a child growing up in the Harlem section of the Manhattan, Althea found she had an affinity for athletics. Basketball and paddle tennis were her favorite sports, and she excelled at both. In fact, her talent at paddle tennis was so remarkable that in 1939 she won her age group at the New York City paddle tennis championships. Shortly after, a very good friend of Althea's suggested that she try lawn tennis. She showed an incredible aptitude for the sport and her play caught the attention of members of the predominately African-American Harlem Cosmopolitan Tennis Club, who helped her raise money to become a member. At the age of fourteen, Althea took her first real tennis lesson at the club under the tutelage of one-armed tennis coach Fred Johnson. She would never look back.
A year later in 1942, the major governing body for African-American tennis tournaments—the American Tennis Association (ATA)—sponsored the New York Girls Singles Championship at Althea's club. With her aggressive and dominating style of play, she won the title easily. It was her first of what was to be many victories, on and off the court.
Althea dropped out of high school shortly after winning the New York Girls Championship. She found the classes boring and wanted to concentrate on tennis. Her decision raised many eyebrows amongst members of the ATA, who had hoped that she would become one of the sport's new stars. She was encouraged to leave New York City and move to Wilmington, North Carolina to live with the family of Hubert Eaton, a wealthy doctor who was active in the African-American tennis community. Dr. Eaton welcomed Althea into his family. He not only offered her guidance with her tennis career, he also convinced her to finish the remaining three years of high school. While living with the Eaton family in Wilmington, she would travel around the country to compete in ATA tournaments. By the time she graduated in 1949, Althea had already won the first two of what would be ten consecutive ATA national titles. She was regarded by many as one of the most impressive young talents in the female game, but because of segregation she was not permitted to practice on any of the public courts in Wilmington. She was also yet to be invited to any of the major segregated tournaments.
By early 1950 Althea was making some headway. She was the first African American to play in the national indoor tournament, where she finished second. Althea believed her two national championships and her strong showing at the indoor tournament was proof that she was one of female tennis's elite players. She and the ATA tried to lobby the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) for an invitation to the 1950 U.S. Nationals, but despite the ATA's efforts and Althea's obvious merit, the USLTA failed to extend her an invitation.
Not every member of the USLTA was pleased with the organization's decision. Former U.S. National and Wimbledon champion Alice Marble wrote a scathing editorial in the July 1950 issue of American Lawn Tennis magazine criticizing the USLTA's segregationist stance. Ms. Marble wrote, "The entrance of (African-Americans) into national tennis is as inevitable as it has proven in baseball, in football, or in boxing; there is no denying so much talent…If Althea Gibson represents a challenge to the present crop of players, then it's only fair that they meet this challenge on the courts." The editorial caused a national uproar that quickly led the USLTA to finally extend Althea an invitation to play in the 1950 U.S. Nationals tournament. This invitation would open many doors for Althea, and the following year she was the first African American to compete at Wimbledon.
It took a few years for Althea to adjust to the world-class level of play. She won her first major tournament in 1956 and would dominate the sport for the next five years, winning six doubles titles and a total of eleven Grand Slam events including the U.S. Nationals and Wimbledon twice. Yet even at the height of her career as an international tennis champ, Althea was forced to endure discrimination. She was often refused hotels rooms and reservations at restaurants simply because of her skin color.
Althea once said that her extraordinary success was the product of being "game enough to take a lot of punishment along the way." The pioneering example set by Althea Gibson paved the way for future generations of African-American tennis players, and proved that beyond her tennis glory she was a true champion of the human spirit.
- What is the main purpose of the passage?
- to glimpse a piece of the past
- to glorify athletes
- to disparage segregation
- to teach the history of tennis
- to tell a story
- The word bucolic in line 13 most nearly means
- All of the following questions can be answered based on information from the passage EXCEPT
- What factors influenced the USLTA to invite Althea Gibson to the U.S. Nationals?
- Did Althea play in another ATA tournament after she was invited to the U.S. Nationals?
- Why did Althea go to live with Dr. Eaton?
- To what specific types of discrimination was Althea subjected?
- How many times did Althea compete at Wimbledon?
- Which of the following best describes the USLTA's change of heart regarding Althea's invitation?
- buckling under the pressure of public opinion
- a calculated strike against segregation
- a sudden recognition of Althea's abilities
- a bold marketing strategy
- a desire to diversify the women's game
- The author uses Althea's quote about being game enough in line 80 to illustrate that
- Althea's career was plagued with injuries.
- the sport of tennis is more grueling than people realize.
- Althea believed the discrimination she faced served only to make her a stronger competitor.
- Althea was often fined for yelling at the referee.
- Althea believed talent was more important than mental toughness.
- Althea's achievements are best described as
- remarkable displays of talent and athleticism.
- groundbreaking triumphs in the face of adversity.
- important events that led to immediate civil rights reform.
- one woman's fight against the world.
- historically insignificant.
- Which statement best summarizes Alice Marble's quote in lines 60–64?
- Baseball, football, and boxing are more entertaining than tennis.
- Talent should dictate who could be a champion at a USLTA tournament, not race.
- There are players in the U.S. Nationals who do not deserve to be there.
- The USLTA should do away with invitations and make the tournament open to anybody.
- The ATA and USTLA should merge for the benefit of the sport.
- Why did Althea's friend suggest that she try lawn tennis?
- Lawn tennis is a more competitive game than paddle tennis.
- The friend preferred playing lawn tennis.
- There was more money to be made playing lawn tennis than paddle tennis.
- The friend thought Althea might enjoy playing lawn tennis, and excel at it.
- The friend was looking for a tennis partner.
- All of the following statements are supported by the passage EXCEPT
- Alice Marble was a white tennis player.
- Dr. Eaton's guidance helped Althea's career.
- Althea won the New York Girls Singles championship when she fifteen.
- The public tennis courts in Wilmington were segregated.
- Althea Gibson won more Grand Slam titles than any other female tennis player.
Questions 10–18 are based on the following passage.
The following passage chronicles the 1919 "Black Sox" baseball scandal.
Professional baseball suffered during the two years the United States was involved in World War I. Many Americans who were preoccupied with the seriousness of the war raging overseas had little concern for he trivialities of a baseball game. After the war ended in 1919, many Americans wanted to put those dark years behind them and get back to the normal activities of a peaceful life. One of those activities was watching baseball. In the summer of 1919, ballparks that just one year earlier had been practically empty were now filled daily with the sights and sounds of America's favorite pastime. That year, both the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees were two of the strongest teams in baseball's American League, but one team stood head and shoulders above the rest: The Chicago White Sox.
The Chicago White Sox, called The White Stockings until 1902, were owned by an ex-ballplayer named Charles Comiskey. Between the years of 1900 and 1915 the White Sox had won the World Series only once, and Comiskey was determined to change that. In 1915, he purchased the contracts of three of the most promising stars in the league: outfielders "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and "Happy" Oscar Felsch, and second baseman Eddie Collins. Comiskey had only to wait two years for his plan to come to fruition; the 1917 White Sox, playing in a park named for their owner, won the World Series. Two years later they had the best record in all of baseball and were again on their way to the Series.
Baseball players' salaries in that era were much different than the exorbitant paychecks of today's professional athletes. Often, ballplayers would have second careers in the off-season because of the mediocrity of their pay. To make matters worse, war-torn 1918 was such a horrible year for baseball attendance that many owners cut player salaries for the following season. However, it is said in all of baseball there was no owner as parsimonious as Charles Comiskey. In 1917 he reportedly promised every player on the White Sox a bonus if they won the American League Championship. After winning the championship, they returned to the clubhouse to receive their bonus—a bottle of inexpensive champagne. Unlike other owners, Comiskey also required the players to pay for the cleaning of their uniforms. The Sox had the best record in baseball, but they were the least paid, were the most discontented, and wore the dirtiest uniforms.
Comiskey's frugality did not sit well with the players. They were most upset with the fact that he did not raise salaries back to their 1918 levels, even though the ballpark attendance figures for 1919 were higher than any previous year. One player, Eddie Ciccotte, felt especially ill-treated by Comiskey. The owner promised the pitcher a bonus of $10,000 if he won thirty games, but after Ciccotte won his twenty-ninth game he was benched by Comiskey for the rest of the season.
Gamblers were such a common sight around the Chicago ballpark that Charles Comiskey had signs proclaiming "No Betting Allowed In This Park" posted conspicuously in the stands. The money with which these gamblers tempted the players was hard to refuse, and it was rumored that to supplement their income some of the lower-paid athletes would offer inside tips to the bettors. But gamblers' mingling with ballplayers wasn't solely confined to the White Sox. In 1920, allegations involving gambling among Chicago Cubs players brought to light a scandal that would shock Chicago and the rest of America: Eight members of the White Sox had thrown the 1919 World Series.
The exact facts regarding the scandal will never be known, but the most accepted theory is that just prior to the World Series, White Sox player Chick Gandil had approached a gambler by the name of Joseph Sullivan with a proposal that for $100,000 Gandil would make sure the Sox lost the Series. Gandil needed to recruit other players for the plan to work. It was not hard for him to do—there were many underpaid players on the White Sox who were dissatisfied with the way Comiskey operated the team. Ultimately, the seven other players that were allegedly involved in the scheme were Eddie Cicotte, Happy Felsch, Joe Jackson, Fred McMullin, Charles "Swede" Risberg, Buck Weaver, and Claude Williams.
They were successful. The Chicago White Sox, heavily favored to beat an inferior Cincinnati Reds team, lost the nine-game World Series in eight games, due in most part to the inferior play of the eight conspiring players. When the scandal made headlines the following year the press began to refer to them as the Black Sox, and the ignominious label would be used to describe them forever.
When the eight players stood before an Illinois grand jury, it was determined that that there was not enough substantial evidence for any convictions, and the players were all eventually acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing. Interestingly enough, Charles Comiskey paid for the players' high-priced defense lawyers. Unfortunately for Comiskey, there was to be no similar reprieve from major league baseball: Every single one of the accused players was banned from the game for life. Comiskey's once mighty team was decimated by the loss of its most talented players, and the 1921 White Sox finished the season in seventh place.
- According to the passage, who was the supposed ringleader of the Black Sox scandal?
- Charles Comiskey
- "Shoeless" Joe Jackson
- Eddie Ciccotte
- Eddie Collins
- Chick Gandil
- In line 29, the word parsimonious most nearly means
- According to facts from the passage, what was the name of the White Sox's ballpark?
- Chicago Park
- Comiskey Park
- Sullivan Stadium
- White Sox Park
- Sox Field
- In line 54, the word thrown refers to
- losing intentionally.
- pitching a baseball.
- projecting upon.
- dashing upon.
- abandoning something.
- According to the passage, how many World Series' did the White Sox win between 1900 and 1919?
- All of the following questions can be answered based on information from the passage EXCEPT
- Who was the second baseman for the 1915 White Sox?
- Did the White Sox play in the American League or the National League?
- What was the White Sox's original name?
- How many games did Eddie Ciccotte pitch in 1918?
- Why did many baseball owners lower player salaries for the 1919 season?
- In lines 71–72, word ignominious most nearly means
- The last paragraph of the passage suggests that Charles Comiskey
- thought the team was better off without the eight players.
- hoped all eight players would be convicted and sent to jail.
- wanted the players involved in the scandal to return to the team.
- was contemplating retirement.
- had a plan to get the White Sox back to the World Series.
- The passage as a whole suggests that
- The White Sox probably fixed the 1917 World Series, too.
- Charles Comiskey may have been in part to blame for his players' actions.
- ballplayers betting on games was a highly unusual occurrence.
- baseball never recovered after World War I.
- Charles Comiskey often bet against his own team.
- e. Glimpsing a piece of the past (choice a), glorifying athletes (choice b), disparaging segregation (choice c), and learning some tennis history (choice d) are all story elements that support the main purpose of the passage: To tell the story of Althea Gibson, the woman who broke the color barrier in professional tennis (choice e).
- a. The word bucolic is most often used to describe something typical of or relating to rural life. If you did not know what bucolic meant, there are contextual clues to help you. In lines 11-15, the passage tells us that Althea was born on a cotton farm and her father was a sharecropper. Also, in lines 13–14, the author contrasts the bucolic Silver with New York City's urban bustle.
- e. The passage states that Althea Gibson was a two-time Wimbledon champion. However, the passage does not offer the exact number of defeats Althea suffered at Wimbledon in her career.
- a. Althea's accomplishments in 1949 and 1950 should have earned her an invitation to the 1950 U.S. Nationals, but her and the ATA's efforts to secure an invitation from the USTLA fell on deaf ears (lines 51–57). It was not until the national uproar spurred by Alice Marble's editorial (lines 62–66) that the USTLA, buckling under the weight of public pressure (choice a), relented and extended Althea an invitation to play.
- c. Althea was an extraordinarily gifted athlete, yet because of the color of her skin and the time in which she lived, her path to success from the very beginning was obstructed by segregation and discrimination. Althea was not allowed to practice on public tennis courts (lines 47–48), barred from USLTA-sponsored events (line 57), and was refused hotel rooms and restaurant reservations (lines 76–78). Althea's ability to put these distractions aside and excel was a triumph of mental toughness, and the author uses the quote on line 80 to illustrate that fact.
- b. When looking at questions such as this one, it's important to think each choice through before hastily picking an answer. This question has two tough distracters: choices c and d. At first glance, choice c seems like a good pick, but the word immediate is what makes it incorrect. Althea Gibson's achievements were certainly victories for the civil rights movement, but in lines 6–7 it is stated that the color barrier did not come tumbling down overnight. Choice d is attractive, but Althea did not take on the world alone. The ATA and people like Dr. Eaton and Alice Marble all had a hand in guiding and assisting Althea on her pioneering path. Choice e is incorrect because Althea's historic achievements on and off the court were groundbreaking, and she accomplished it all in the face of adversity.
- b. Alice Marble believed that talent should decide who can be a champion, not race (choice b). Nowhere in her comments did Alice Marble say baseball, football, and boxing are more entertaining than tennis (choice a), or that there were undeserving players in the U.S. Nationals (choice c). Nor did she propose that the USLTA make the tournament open to anybody (choice d).
- d. Althea's friend probably suggested that Althea try lawn tennis because she was a champion paddle tennis player and enjoyed the sport very much (lines 16–17). The other choices either don't make sense or are not supported by facts from the passage.
- e. In lines 71–75, the passage states that Althea won a total of eleven Grand Slam titles in her career. However, nowhere in the passage does it state that those eleven titles were a record number for a female.
- e. The answer is found in line 58 of the passage. Chick Gandil first approached the gambler with his scheme, and then recruited the seven other players.
- b. Parsimonious is a word used to describe someone who is frugal to the point of stinginess. Comiskey's pay cuts (line 27), bonus of cheap champagne (lines 32–33), refusal to launder uniforms (lines 33–34), and his benching of Eddie Ciccotte (lines 42–44) are all clues that should help you deduce the answer from the given choices.
- b. Answering this question involves a bit of deductive reasoning. Though the actual name of the ballpark is never given in the passage, lines 20–21 state that the 1917 White Sox won the World Series playing in a park named for their owner.
- a. As it is used in line 54, thrown means to have lost intentionally. The answer to this question is found in lines 59–60. For $100,000 Chick Gandil would make sure the Sox lost the Series.
- c. Lines 14–16 state between the years of 1900 and 1915 the White Sox had won the World Series only once, and then line 21 tells us they won it again in 1917. Be careful not to mistakenly select choice d, three; the question asks for the number of World Series the Sox won, not the number of Series played.
- d. In lines 42–44 the author states that after Ciccotte won his twentyninth game he was benched by Comiskey for the rest of the season. Choice d asks for the number of games he pitched. It is stated that he pitched and won twenty-nine games in 1919, but the passage doesn't mention the number of games he pitched in which he lost, so you can't know for sure.
- b. Ignominious is a word used to describe something marked with shame or disgrace, something dishonorable. The ignominious label referred to in lines 71–72 is Black Sox—the nickname the Chicago press took to calling the scandalized and disgraced White Sox team.
- c. It is stated throughout the passage Comiskey was a frugal man, yet in lines 76–77 it says that he paid for the players' defense lawyers. Why? The answer to that and the biggest clue to answering this question lies in the last sentence of the passage: Comiskey's once mighty team was decimated by the loss of its most talented players, and the 1921 White Sox finished the season in seventh place.
- b. Lines 47–50 state that gamblers would often target with the lower-paid athletes because the money with which these gamblers tempted the players was hard to refuse. The passage tells that due to Charles Comiskey's stinginess with his players, there were many underpaid players on the White Sox who were dissatisfied (lines 61–62) and they were the most discontented team in baseball (line 35). These factors suggest that if Charles Comiskey had treated his players better, perhaps they might not have been so eager to betray him.
For more practice on sports and leisure critical reading questions, review:
- Sports and Leisure Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 1
- Sports and Leisure Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 2 You are here
- Sports and Leisure Critical Reading Practice Exercises Set 3
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