Leisure and sport in the Uk
Leisure is the period of “free” or “spare” time when people can do what they choose. Until recently, people had relatively little leisure, since most of their time was taken up by the struggle to survive. Shorter working hours, longer holidays and higher wages in real terms mean that leisure has boomed in the years since World War II.
Some traditional activities with a “community” feel, such as visits to the local cinema, seem to have declined, since advances in technology (compact discs, computer games and video recorders, not to mention television itself) mean that an increasing amount of leisure time is spent in the home, in smaller groups, or even individually. Other home-based leisure activities are do-it-yourself (often practiced on Sunday), gardening, reading, and surfing or chatting on the Net.
Outside the home, sport remains popular, although perhaps it is surprising to see that football is not the sport in which most people show interest.
In Britain there is increasing female participation in sports which were once considered the exclusive territory of men: football, cricket, rugby, boxing, weightlifting. Sport, however, is not just an innocent leisure activity. Hooliganism and violence play an increasing role in spectator sport. Racist chants are still an unpleasant reality on Saturday afternoons at the football stadium. Saturation coverage of sport on TV means that sportsmen are becoming showbiz personalities, and sponsorization has become almost universal. Some people feel that some of the magic of sport has been destroyed, turning it into just another consumer product. An example is the new video game ‘David Beckham Soccer’ – a TV ad for this game shows a probe sucking the star’s footballing knowledge out of his head.
According to statistics, the three most popular sports in Britain, in terms of popularity, are walking, running/jogging and cycling.
The name explains itself – it includes all those ‘sports’ where the blood of animals is shed. The most traditional blood sport in Britain is fox-hunting. Naturally enough, a large proportion of the population is against it but traditions are hard to change in countries like Britain.
However, change could be on the way: the Scottish Parliament recently passed a bill to ban this cruel activity and Parliament in London is also planning to debate it in the near future.