Sports Terms Study Guide
This study guide focuses on words from the world of sports, many of which are used both on and off the playing field.
It's often said that the language of sports is universal. Every city and village has its favorite team; every nation has its favorite sport; and international competitions, like the Olympics, are extraordinarily popular the world over.
In addition to a sense of community pride that cheering for a team promotes, perhaps the best reason sports are so popular is that fans of all ages can imagine themselves right there on the field with their team—playing hard, suffering possible defeat, basking in the glory of a game won in the final, exciting moments. Because both amateurs and professionals play the same games, fans identify with and cheer on their sports heroes, knowing only too well how much effort it takes to give your all repeatedly for the sake of the sport.
Everyone likes the thrill of competing, even if it's only against ourselves, trying to do better this time than last. Watching skilled professionals play, we may wonder how we'd do in their situation. We'd love to do what they do, but in most cases we know we can't. Still, as we watch, we compare individual players to each other and compare their performances to what we know we are capable of doing. If they're well-paid pros, we obviously expect them to do better than we would!
One of the most interesting things about sports-related words is how many of them are applicable in other parts of our lives. Here, you'll find many sports words used every day in other arenas. (Note that arena can be defined as a sports field and as a place where events unfold). When we use sports words to describe other ideas, we're using them as metaphors. As you read the list, note how often the words work off the field as well as on. Write down other sports words that come to mind, and be sure to look them up in a dictionary if you're not sure about their exact meanings.
A metaphor is a word or phrase used to describe similarity between two things without using like or as. For example, Tom is a tiger on the field suggests that Tom is fast and ferocious, like a tiger.
Words From the World of Sports
|1.||aerobic. Something or someone that utilizes oxygen in order to live. The coach required all his players to do at least one hour a day of aerobic exercises.|
|2.||calisthenics. Gymnastic exercises that are usually performed with little or no special apparatus. Every morning our homeroom teacher requires us to do five minutes of calisthenics in order to wake us up.|
|3.||decathlon. An athletic contest comprising ten different track and field events and won by the contestant amassing the highest total score. (Note the spelling of this word; it is easy to add an extra, unwanted syllable to it and pronounce it de-cath-Alon, which is incorrect.) Customarily, men compete more frequently in decathlons than women do, but slowly, that's beginning to change.|
|4.||draft. Outside sports, this word can mean a preliminary drawing or document, such as the first draft of a book; it can also mean a path of air, such as in a chimney. In sports, a draft is the selection of new players by a professional team, from a group of amateur players. The student council drafted its treasurer to be in charge of purchasing decorations for the Halloween party.|
|5.||Ironman. A triathlon race held once a year in Hawaii that includes an ocean swim, a bike ride, and a marathon foot race. The event takes its name from a comic book character with great athletic endurance. Our quarterback is a regular ironman when it comes to getting that ball down the field.|
|6.||kickoff. In football and soccer, a kick that puts a stationary ball in motion and begins a period of play. The candidate announced his campaign with a kickoff speech at the state convention.|
|7.||kinetic. Something produced by motion. The kinetic energy of the young gymnasts at the Olympics was thrilling to watch.|
|8.||marathon. A long-distance running event of 26 miles and 385 yards named for the story of a messenger's long run in 490 B.C. from the Battle of Marathon to Athens. The dance marathon lasted more than 24 hours, until the dancers collapsed in exhaustion.|
|9.||offsides. To be illegally beyond an allowed line or area or ahead of the ball in football or soccer. The candidate's campaign was offsides when it accused her opponent of foul play.|
|10.||out of left field. In baseball, left field is the area in the outfield to the left of a person standing at home plate while facing the pitcher's mound. When we describe someone or something as coming out of left field, we mean that the person is acting odd or strange, or the event is happening without warning.|
|11.||three strikes. In baseball, a batter strikes out when he or she has struck at or failed to hit three good balls. In legal terms, some laws demand severe punishment after someone has been convicted of three crimes. The drug dealer, convicted for the third time, was sentenced to 95 years in prison under the three strikes law.|
|12.||time-out. In sports, a brief interruption in play called to make substitutions or discuss strategy, or the like. My parents try to calm my little sister down by assigning time-outs to her so that the rest of us can have some peace and quiet.|
Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:
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