Typical American Sports

American Football


1. Questions about American football
2. Questions about basketball

American football

American football is the national sport of the United States, where it has a nationwide following at both college and professional levels. It is a game of explosive action, as two teams of big and powerful men try to carry or pass the oval ball into their opponents' end zone. The players are made to look even more fearsome by the helmets with face guards, and the mass of protective padding under their uniforms.

The game is played 11-a-side. Professional football teams have squads of 45 players, but only 11 are allowed on the field at any one time. There are entirely separate teams for offence (attack), defence and special kicking situations. A game is divided into four 15-minute quarters, but the clock is stopped for a variety of reasons and games usually last 3 hours or more.

A touchdown worth 6 points is scored by taking the ball across the goal line or by catching a pass while in the end zone. The offence advance the ball in a series of plays called ‘downs’. Teams have four downs in which to move the ball at least 10 yards towards their opponents' end zone. If they do not make 10 yards, the ball is handed over to their opponents.

The ball is moved by running with it or by passing – one forward pass is allowed on each down, and only to a designated ‘receiver’. Only the ball-carrier may be tackled, but players may obstruct opponents by blocking. An extra point may be scored after a touchdown by kicking the ball over the crossbar. If they are close enough to their opponents' line by the fourth down, a team may attempt a ‘field goal’ worth 3 points, made by kicking the ball over the bar.


The American code of football goes back to 1874, when a visiting team from the Canadian McGill University (Montreal) brought English Rugby to Harvard, where students played a soccer-like kicking game. The American students liked the new running and tackling style so much that they adopted it and introduced it to other eastern colleges, and the sport developed independently in the USA.

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Baseball is the national summer sport of the United States. It is now played in many other countries and achieved full Olympic status in 1992.
Baseball is played nine-a-side. Each side has nine innings at bat. A pitcher throws the ball and a batter tries to hit it and run. A run is scored when a player moves safely round the three bases and back to home plate, not necessarily at one turn.

Innings and outs

An inning is over when three players are out. Batters may be out in several ways: by striking out, when they make three ‘strikes’ (fail to hit the ball three times); by flying out, when a fielder catches the ball before it hits the ground; or by grounding out, when, after hitting into fair territory, they fail to reach first base before a fielder with the ball touches the base or tags them. Runners may also be out if they fail to reach their base.

A team must keep the same batting order throughout. Substitutes take the order of the player they replace. In some competitions, such as the American League and the Olympics, a ‘designated hitter’ may bat in place of the pitcher.

A world apart

The World Series, staged annually since 1903, is a best-of- seven decider between the champions of the major leagues in the USA, the National and American Leagues, which also include some Canadian teams.

Other countries where baseball is a major sport include Australia, Japan, South Africa, the Netherlands and many in Latin America. Cuba, which has dominated the World Amateur Championships, first held in 1938, won the 1992 Olympic title with ease.

Women play baseball in some countries, but softball, a scaled-down version of the game, is a more popular option.

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Basketball is one of the few major sports to have been invented from scratch. It was devised in the USA in 1891 by a Canadian-born YMCA instructor, Dr James Naismith, to keep his students occupied in the severe New England winters. He hung a peach basket from the balcony at each end of the gymnasium for them to throw balls into and that is how the game got its name.
Basketball is now the most widely played of all indoor sports, with more than 190 countries affiliated to FIBA, the sport's world governing body. It became an Olympic sport for men in 1936 and for women in 1976. The top stars of the US professional league, the National Basketball Association (NBA), are among the world's most highly paid – and tallest – sportsmen.
Play and rules
In basketball, the ball may be thrown, passed, tapped, bounced or rolled. There are rules to govern how players can turn and move with the ball.
The international rules of basketball differ in some ways from those of the NBA, which plays four 12-minute instead of two 20- minute periods. International rules provide for 10-player teams, as opposed to 12 in the NBA, but in all types of basketball teams may have only five players on court at any one time.
Playing positions
All players in a team play both defence and attack, depending on which side has possession. Players may move freely about the court, but the usual formation is two guards, two forwards and a centre. The guards direct the attack, starting most of the moves. Forwards are usually taller than guards, and look for shots close to the basket. The centre is usually the tallest and most important member of the team, and the centre aims to be the first to catch rebounds from the ring or backboard.

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(taken from "Oxford Children`s Encyclopedia", OUP 96)



Question about American Football

made by Daniel and Sebastian

1. What is the national sport of the United States?
2. Is American Football a game of action?
3. How many players are on each side?
4. How many players does one team have?

5. How many quarters has a game got?
6. How many minutes does quarter have?
7. How many points does a team get for a touchdown?
8. When does team get an extra point?

9. How many downs does a team have to move the ball at least 10 yards?
10. What happens when they do not make the 10 yards?
11. To which year does the American code of football go back?
12. Do you know a game that`s similar to American football?

Can you answer Andreas` questions about basketball?

1. In which year was basketball devised in the USA?
2. What did Dr. James Naismith do?
3. When did basketball become an Olympic sport for men?
4. When did it become olympic for women?

5. What is the meaning of NBA?
6. How many players do the international rules allow?
7. What do all players in a team have to do?
8. Can players move freely about the court?

sebastian, andreas, daniel, patrick

Sebastian, Andreas, Daniel and Patrick

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