Archive for the ‘Sports and Recreation’ Category


Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

      In some cases I have very much enjoyed the activity of tailgating1, but in many other cases I find it very irritating2.  It depends on how the word is being defined.  The verb, describing two very different activities, comes from a noun which was first used in 1868, at which time it was defined as a board or gate at the rear of a vehicle3 that could be removed or let down, as for loading.  In 1868, the tailgate was found at the back of a horse-drawn wagon4.  Now it most often refers to the back of a car or truck.


      Before I retired from teaching, I often taught a class in The History of the English Language.  I would tell my students about how flexible54 the English language is, how one part of speech6 often switches its function (usage) to another part.  It is referred to as functional shift7. The linguistic history of the word “tailgate” is a good example of this.  People found how convenient it was to pull down the tailgate of a wagon, truck or car, and put out food for a picnic.  This was found to be especially convenient when people were parked in a parking lot while attending a football game at a university, a special kind of picnic. 


      Many Saturday afternoons Don and I have seen groups of students with their friends and families tailgating out in the college parking lot behind our house.  Some of the groups even set up portable charcoal grills8 in order that they can cook hamburgers etc.  The odors coming from there are enticing9 indeed.  Some parents of football players have festive10 tailgating parties that go on all day.  One family I recall would fix11 pancakes12 in the morning, hamburgers and hot dogs at lunch, and even more hamburgers and hot dogs in the evening.  They would invite anyone they knew to join them.  They always parked at the same spot, erected13 a tent, and put out chairs so that people would know where to find them. 


      Tailgating can also be defined as driving dangerously close to another automobile.  That is the kind of tailgating that I find both irritating and dangerous.  The word implies that when a car is tailgating another, it is driving dangerously close, so close that if the tailgate were to open, it could touch that car.  Also, if the car in front were to suddenly stop, the second car probably would be unable to stop and would hit the first car. 


      Tomorrow is Saturday and there will be much tailgating going on, both the fun type and the unsafe type.  Central College has a football game about 125 miles from here.  I’ll be thinking of all of the tailgating activities and wishing good luck to all of the students driving and picnicking14 there.



1. tailgating: driving dangerously close behind another car, or holding a picnic on the tailgate of a car, the tailgate being the gate at the rear of the car which can be let down (很危险地紧随着一辆车开或在汽车尾部野餐,该车后门可以放下来).

2. irritating: causing annoyance (令人烦躁的).

3. a board or gate at the rear of a vehicle: 车辆尾部的后挡板或后车门

4. wagon: a four-wheel vehicle for transporting bulky items and originally drawn by animals (四轮运货车,四轮马车). 

5. flexible: being able to change or be changed easily to suit any new situation (灵活的). 

6. part of speech: one of the types into which words are divided in grammar according to their use, such as noun, verb, or adjective (词类,词性).

7. functional shift: The linguistic term applied to the situation occurring when one part of speech starts functioning as another (词性转换).  One of the primary characteristics of the English language is how readily functional shifting occurs.

8. portable charcoal grills: 便携式(置于)炭(火上的)烤架

9. enticing: tempting or attractive (诱人的,吸引人的).  In this case the delicious food odors attract people to the area or tempt them to want to eat the food. 

10. festive: joyful or gay (节日般的,喜庆的).

11. fix: prepare a meal or drinks (准备食物/饮料).

12. pancake: 薄烤饼,烘饼

13. erected: built or put up (支起,搭建).   

14. picnicking: going on an excursion or outing with food usually provided by the members of the group and eaten in the open air (进行野餐).      


Probability, Risk and Gambling

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

      Of all the things I see on T.V. these days, I think I dislike most of all, those ads which try to entice1 people to attend one of the gambling casinos2 to “have fun” eating gourmet foods, staying in the posh lodgings3, and winning big prizes at the gaming tables4.  I know I am not the only one who is not attracted to these invitations to gamble, and many of the persons who are attracted to these casinos cannot afford to visit them.  Despite the fact that the casinos support many worthy regional projects5 with part of their profits from the gambling activities, the fact is that these enterprises6 are unneeded, and often take money from those who can least afford to lose the money they have.

       I’ve never had much interest in gambling, and it’s not only because my parents told me that they disapproved of it - though they did.  For as long as I can remember I have not liked to take risks when it is evident that there are negative consequences7 involved.

      It is not that I lack self confidence8 in my own skills, or fear failing, but is it acceptable to “win” something that one has not earned, whether it may be by deceit or chance9?  As children we were not allowed to play “keeps10” in marble games, and we were told not to bet on the outcome of games or sporting events.  Beyond ethical or moral reasons, gambling and risk-taking both offer a small chance of success for the gambler.

       The latest information I’ve seen about the chance of winning in casinos in the U.S. is  only about 10-12 % of the money spent; thus the gambling enterprises earn about 88-90% of the funds spent at the casinos. Many “Bingo11” games run as charity fund raisers12 are even less generous than the casinos.  Many people feel this is unfair, even considering the overhead expenses13 of running the gaming enterprise.  The state of Iowa, as many other states do, requires that a small, given percentage of casino profits be used to fund programs which aid in dealing with “gambling addiction14.”  Yes, gambling can be addictive, and it can ruin lives.

       Gambling industries often describe their activities as “entertainment15,” but is losing one’s money really entertainment?  Yes, I have fed quarters into slot machines16, and I have played golf in a local Calcutta Tournament17, but even though I did not lose money myself, I know others did, and I felt uncomfortable about it.  Some friends tell me that they have walked away as winners from gambling, but my feeling is that, over time, all gamblers are losers.  Casinos don’t even attempt to justify this fact, but instead insist the customer is being entertained in the process.  I doubt this.

       If people want to organize friendly card games, office pools18, or family contests in which each participant contributes to a limited pot of prize money19 (i.e. football, bowl games, horse races, national sports championships, etc.,) I have no great objections, because at least in these cases the novice20 has an equal chance of winning as does the expert because of the many unpredictable variables21 involved.  And, at least some entertainment value is present when a friend or colleague is lucky enough to win.



1. entice: attract or lead someone to do something (诱使,吸引).

2. casinos: a place where gambling of various types is carried on as a commercial activity (赌场).

3. posh lodgings: luxurious, expensive attractive rooms or buildings to house people who are visiting a gambling casino (豪华住所).

4. gaming tables: tables where the gambling games are operated (赌台,赌桌).

5. regional projects: programs such as higher education, highway construction, etc. which occur in a given region where gambling is legalized (地区项目,如在赌博合法的某一地区进行的高等教育,高速公路建设等投资项目).

6. enterprises: for-profit businesses of one sort or another (企业).

7. negative consequences: undesirable outcomes of a given behavior or action (负面结果).

8. self confidence: having assurance of ones ability or skill in some activity (自信).

9. deceit or chance: 欺骗或者机遇

10. “keeps”: games played with marbles in which the winner is permitted to take the

marbles which the loser had been using in the game (一种玻璃弹子游戏,赢者可以拿走输者的玻璃弹子).

11. Bingo: a game in which players try to match numbers on their cards with numbers that are called out and if players can complete a line of numbers theyll win (一种游戏,玩者试图把牌上的数字与开叫的数字相配,如果能占有一行的数字就赢了).

12. charity fund raisers: 慈善基金募捐手段

13. overhead expenses: money spent regularly on rent, insurance, electricity, and other things that are needed to keep a business operating (企业或机构的经常性开支,管理费用).

14. gambling addictiona strong desire to gamble (赌瘾).

15. entertainment: an interesting diversion or engaging activity (娱乐).

16. slot machines:(吃角子)老虎机

17. Calcutta Tournament: a golf tournament in which observers bet money on the player who they feel will win the competition in that golf game (一种高尔夫锦标赛,观众可以把钱押在他们认为会是比赛胜者的身上).

18. office pools: collections of money which each person in the office or group contributes, and the winner is the person who chooses the winner in some type of contest or competition (一种博彩方式,办公室或一群人中每个人贡献钱,谁在一场比赛或竞赛中猜对了胜者就赢钱).

19. limited pot of prize money: a sum of money paid by each player in a game, and which is awarded to the winner of that game (每个玩游戏的人共同贡献的奖金,用来奖励游戏的胜者).

20. novice: someone who has no experience in a skill, subject, or activity (新手,初学者).

21. unpredictable variables: The many individual factors which can possibly influence the outcome of a contest or game, and which make it impossible to know in advance what the outcome or result will be (不可预测的变量).






Fly Fishing

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009


      A week or two ago, my friend, Mary Stark, asked if I’d again demonstrate fly fishing1 to her class in Environmental Literature2.  A River Runs Through3 is one of the books which they enjoy, and fly fishing for trout4 plays an important part in that book.  Some of the students know about fly fishing, but few have ever tried it or even seen it done.

       I learned to fish while still quite young.  My grandfather Huffman was an avid5 fisherman and a great teller of fishing tales6.  He used any method that worked, and he was what I now would call a “meat fisherman.7” He fished nearly every day, usually caught catfish8 or bass9, and occasionally a snapping turtle10.  I liked eating his catches11, but I did not like to fish the way he did.

      My brother Ed and I were given some old bamboo fly rods12 by our older brothers, and we repaired them so we could use them to fly fish for perch13 and bass in the ponds west of our home.  I gave up fishing while in graduate school14, then did some casting15 with lures16 on Boundary Water lakes17 in northern Minnesota and southern Canada while taking canoe18 trips with fellow teachers from Central College.  It was fun, but it lacked the finesse19 that I associate with fly fishing.

      In 1989 Maxine and I bought a condominium20 in McCall, Idaho21 where some of our close friends had a home.  Our friends, Orson and Hope Miller, were colleagues who worked with mushrooms on a professional level. 

      Orson had learned to fly fish from his grandfather when he was a child, and he was a master in the art of fly casting22, having learned years ago how to select the best type of fly to attract fish. He could “read the water23” and gauge the bottom makeup24, determine drop-offs25 and other places where fish were apt26 to feed.  This was the first time I had taken fly fishing seriously, and it was a demanding set of skills.  Orson knew how to “tie flies27,” and he was given many flies by other friends in Idaho.  He knew how to put together the right fishing line, appreciated good fly rod and reel action28 and knew all of the types of knots29 that are used to attach all of the parts of a fly line.  While fly fishermen use many types of flotation devices30 while fly fishing, Orson and his friends had settled on31 fishing from small inflatable rubber rafts32. Not only did these work well to get where the fishing might be good, they were also easy to carry deflated in a backpack33 along with other camping items, and they were easily inflated with small air pumps34

       It took me several years to learn enough of fly fishing skills to do them well, but Orson and I became good friends, and I came to see his techniques and equipment as the “official methods35” of fly fishing.  We had many exciting experiences together, and it was a friendship which we enjoyed for years.  Orson was patient, but insistent on good technique in fishing.  He had good equipment, used it well, and over time I became more appreciative36 of this approach to fly fishing.  Orson insisted on keeping all the laws and rules regarding catch limits37 (6 trout per person for Rainbow, Cutthroat, and 9 for Brook38 trout) and he carefully took the hook from the fish if it was too small, and returned it live to the water.  In some lakes with “trophy fish39” one could fish only with flies having hooks with no barbs40; and fish had to be greater than 21 inches to keep, etc.  These and other practices one learned were important to the process of fishing. Orson taught me to fish to the rise41 where fish were feeding on insects on the water surface, and in time I came to think of these methods as the “Gentleman’s way of fishing.42

       If one learns fly fishing properly and heeds43 the rules and expectations44, fly fishing can become a beautiful means of recreation, and it is deserving of the effort to learn.  I have come to believe that each of us has a place where “the river runs through,” at least in our memories.  These are the sort of memories that soothe45 one’s soul and make life worth living and sharing with others. 




1. fly fishing: a type of fishing in which a flexible pole or rod is used to cause an artificial fly or other insect to move onto the water surface in an attempt to catch a fish (飞钓,一种钓鱼的方法,使用有弹性的鱼竿,将人造苍蝇或其他昆虫挥舞到水面使鱼上钩). The fly is constructed of hairs, feathers, or other materials which are tied with thread on a “J” shaped metal hook with a sharp point.  Trout and other fish see this as a floating insect and attempt to eat it, catching the hook in their mouth.  This allows the fisherman to pull the fish near enough to lift it out with a small net.

2. Environmental Literature: an English class in which poetry and novels dealing with the environment and nature are read and discussed (环境文学,一门英语课,课上阅读、讨论与环境和自然有关的诗歌和小说).  This is a very popular class with modern day students, especially those interested with the “green movement” in the U.S.

3. A River Runs Through: a book which is set in the northwestern state of Montana where rivers and fishing are extremely popular as recreation (“一条奔腾而过的河流”,又名“大河恋”,该书的场景在蒙塔纳州的西北部,那儿河流和钓鱼是很受欢迎的消遣方式).  It has also been made into a popular movie.

4. trout: 鲑鱼

5. avid: very enthusiastic about something one does regularly (热衷的,废寝忘食的).

6. fishing tales: stories involving fishing trips and exploits of fishermen (有关钓鱼的故事).  Fishermen are noted for their exaggerated stories.

7. meat fisherman: a person who fishes primarily to get something to eat as a meat dish,  but is not primarily interested in the sport of fishing (钓鱼吃的渔夫,不是把钓鱼当作运动的渔夫).

8. catfish: a type of fish that has whiskers (strong hairs) around its mouth and lives in rivers or lakes (鲶鱼).

9. bassa fish that can be eaten and lives in both rivers and the sea (鲈鱼).

10. snapping turtle: a small animal with powerful jaws and a hard shell that lives in lakes in Northern and Central America (啮龟).

11. catches: fish or turtles caught by ones fishing methods (捕获的鱼或龟).  In this case, a dough-ball made of flour, water, old meat scraps, etc. which was attractive to fish and turtles, was placed on several hooks on a string, and these tied to small tree branches and thrown into the water.  One could also fish with this method with a pole and a short line, using a cork or bobber to show when a fish had become caught on the hook.

12. bamboo fly rods: fishing rods made from bamboo wood strips which were glued together to form a strong, yet flexible fishing rod (飞钓用的竹鱼竿,是用竹条粘合而成的,牢固且有弹性).  These were the common type of fly rod until fiberglass and other artificial materials were used to make fly rods.

13. perch: a common group of small fish which are often caught by fishermen in ponds or streams (河鲈).

14. graduate school: 研究生院

15. casting: causing the lure or bait to be thrown or moved onto or into a body of water when fishing (抛钓,钓鱼时将诱饵抛入水中).

16. lures: 诱饵.

17. Boundary Water lakes: a series of large bodies of water which form the boundary area between the state of Minnesota and Canada (边境湖,形成明尼苏达州和加拿大边境的一系列大湖).

18. canoe: a boat which is light, narrow and long with both ends pointed, and which is usually propelled by paddling (独木舟).

19. finesse: refined or skillful handling of a situation; adroit maneuvering or use of a technique or tool (优雅和技巧).  In this case, the fishing equipment and techniques are involved.

20. condominium: one apartment in a building with several apartments, each of which is owned by the people living in it (公寓楼中的一套公寓).

21. McCall, Idaho: A small town of about 3,000 people, located in a high mountain valley in the Rocky mountains of western Idaho (爱达荷州的麦考尔,一个有3000人口的小镇,位于爱达荷州西部洛基山脉的一个高山峡谷中).  Its elevation is about 5,000 feet and it is surrounded by high mountains where there are many clear lakes where various kinds of trout can be fished for. 

22. fly casting: the technique of tossing the fishing line out into the water and then reeling it back in, enticing the fish to bite at the lure as one does so (一种将线和饵打出去,然后慢慢回收线,以促使鱼咬钩的技能).

23. read the water: a saying describing the ability that a person has enabling him or her to gauge the best place for catching a fish (具有了解水情的能力,能判断哪里是钓到鱼的最佳位置).

24. gauge the bottom makeup:判断水底的构造

25. determine drop-offs: 决定投放诱饵的地方

26. apt: having a natural tendency to do something (倾向于做某事).

27. tie flies: put individual parts of hair, feathers, etc., and tie them onto a hook to devise an artificial fly or insect to attract fish (做人造苍蝇,就是把毛状物,羽毛等固定在鱼钩上做成人造苍蝇或昆虫之类鱼的诱饵).  There are both floating and sinking flies for fly fishing.

28. fly rod and reel action: referring to the flexibility and balance of the rod and of the response of dragging action of the reel as well as for winding the line back onto the reel (飞钓用的钓竿和收线功能).

29. knots: parts where one or more pieces of line have been tied together to secure tying lines together (结头,是为了固定住其他连接线而打的结). In fly fishing it is important that knots be small so that they are secure, but they do not interfere with the movement of the fly line through the rod guides.

30. flotation devices: means of supporting oneself so that one may move about on the water surface to reach desired areas for fishing (飘浮用的充气装置,能够支持人在水上飘移到最佳钓鱼位置).

31. had settled on: had made a decision about (已经决定).

32. inflatable rubber rafts: 充气橡皮筏

33. backpack: 背包

34. air pumps: a device for pumping air to fill an inflatable raft, balloon, tire, etc. (空气泵,用来给充气筏打气用的).

35. official methods: the best or most efficient ways to fly fish (最佳最有效的飞钓方法).

36. appreciative: grateful for something (感谢,赞赏).

37. catch limits: the legal number of fish that one is permitted to catch (可允许的钓鱼量).

38. Rainbow, Cutthroat, Brook trout: three types of trout commonly caught in Idaho (三种不同的鲑鱼,这些通常能在爱达荷州钓到).

39. trophy fish: large fish which can be caught for sport, but must be returned to the water without damage, and cannot be eaten (只能作为体育运动钓的大鱼,抓住后必须毫发无损地放生不能吃).

40. barbs: small sharp projections pointed backwards on the sharp end of the hook (鱼钩尖头上的倒钩).

41. fish to the rise: fish at the place where a fish has fed at the water surface, and which produces a round circle of small waves which move outward from the point of feeding (在水面上鱼喂食的地方钓鱼,也就是在产生涟漪的中心位置).

42. Gentlemans way of fishing : the most appropriate way of fishing by people of greater refinement (最有教养的人的最合适的钓鱼方法).

43. heeds: obeys or pays attention to (听从,注意).

44. expectations: a feeling or belief about the way something should be or how someone should behave (期望,指望).

45. soothe ones soul: cause one to feel good or deeply satisfied (安慰/抚慰人).




Surprise Endings

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

  The last few weeks I’ve realized how important unanticipated1 results are in many aspects2 of our lives.  First, I recognized3 that the football and soccer games in which our college was involved4 have been unusually exciting this year because of the team’s coming from behind to win, winning in overtime5, by some outstanding play, and by unexpected turns of events6 that could not have been anticipated. 

      The same is true of professional and most other athletic events and games; they are interesting because it is not possible to anticipate what may happen on a given day. Why would racing horses, cars, and one another be so interesting if the results were always known in advance?

      Even Payton Manning7 of the Indianapolis Colts8, probably the best football quarterback9 in professional competition has had two bad performances in his last two games.  He had 6 passes10 intercepted11 by opposing12 defensive teams, which is a record number of failed passes, not only for him, but for the entire time that Indianapolis has had a professional football team.  Who could have predicted13 that Yao Ming, the Chinese professional basketball star of the Houston Rockets14, would have a leg injury that would keep him from playing in basketball games, and which causes his team to lose many games that they might have been expected to win?

      Would the many readers of detective stories15 find these so interesting if they always could predict the outcome of the book?  Would card playing be as interesting if one could always know who would win, and how?  Would birthday and Christmas presents and other gifts from loved ones be so treasured16 if they were known to the recipient17 in advance?  Would gambling18 be so attractive to some people if the outcome were always known, and would the winner of a lottery19 be so envied20 by non-winners if the outcome were predictable21?  Probably not.

      Yes, there is much to be said for the place of surprise endings in our lives.  Who would be interested in national and local political elections if the winner were known in advance in most cases?  Well, it might save money, but it would certainly not be so interesting to so many people. 

      I think surprise is certainly a factor which makes life more interesting, and as carefully as we’d like to control what happens to ourselves, our fortunes22, or our successes or failures, we recognize that many of the events cannot be predicted accurately.  As a friend of mine once said, “That’s why they still play the games!23 



1. unanticipated: not expected to happen (没有预料到的).

2. aspects: particular parts, features, or qualities of something (方面,特色,特点).

3. recognized: accepted or admitted that something is true (承认,意识到).

4. involved: associated with, engaged in as a participant (参与的).

5. overtime: a period of time in a game when the official time has ended, but the two teams are tied for scores, and there is an added time period in which the final score will be determined (加时赛).  In soccer the overtime is for five minutes, and if still tied, the teams will play for a second overtime.  In basketball when the teams are tied at the end of the regulation period of play, there is an overtime period of 5 minutes, and if teams are still tied at the end of the first overtime, there is another period which ends when the first team scores one or more points.  Each type of game has its rules for overtime play to determine the final winner.

6. turns of events: unexpected changes in a situation (出乎意料的变化).

7. Payton Manning: the outstanding football player, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, who is each year has one of the best performances among players in the professional football season (佩腾马宁,优秀足球运动员,是印第安纳波利斯小马的四分卫,在职业足球赛季中每年都有出色的表现。).

8. Indianapolis Colts: the name of the professional football team on which Payton Manning plays (印第安纳波利斯小马,佩腾马宁所在的职业足球队).  In recent years they have been one of the strongest teams in any of the professional football competition.

9. quarterback: an important player in the sport of American football who gives instructions to other planers (四分卫,美式橄榄球中向其他球员发出指令的枢纽前卫).  Quarterbacks must make the decision for which play should be used on each occasion, and he may change his mind and signal for another play after he sees the opposing defensive team take its position.  Because of his importance to the team, the quarterback is often the most highly paid player on a team.

10. passes (also called forward passes): 传球 (给某人). These plays occur when the quarterback throws the ball to one of his teammates who may then catch the pass and run forward toward the goal.  This is one of the important types of plays which a quarterback must do very well.

11. intercepted: an occasion on which the defensive player catches a pass that was intended to be caught by an offensive player of the same team as the quarterback (拦截).  This is one of the most important defensive plays which can be made against a team who has a good quarterback.

12. opposing defensive teams: the team which is attempting to stop the offensive team from advancing the football, and ultimately preventing the offensive team from scoring points (进行防守的对方队,该队试图阻止进攻队将球推进并最终得分).

13. predicted: 预测,预料

14. Houston Rockets: the name of the professional basketball team located in Houston, Texas in the U.S. (休斯敦火箭队).  A Chinese basketball player, Yao Ming is a member of this team.

15. detective stories: 侦探故事

16. treasured: highly valued, or of great worth (珍贵,宝贵).

17. recipient: one who receives a gift or other item (接受者).

18. gambling: 赌博

19. lottery: 彩票

20. envied: 妒忌

21. predictable: easily guessed or known in advance of something (能够预测的,可预知的).

22. fortunes: the good or bad things that happen in life (时运).

23. That’s why they still play the games.: It means that the outcome of the game cannot be known in advance, so one still must play the game to see who the winner will be (因为不能预先知道比赛的结果,因此人们还得比赛看看谁会赢).






Football American Style

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

       I know it’s true that for most of the countries in the world football is a sport which we Americans call soccer.  I like soccer too, and I also like rugby, Australian football, and even touch football1, but in mid-autumn the Midwest, and most of the U.S. is in pursuit of2 football victories for the hometown high school team, the local or state college or university, or even the regional professional teams.  This afternoon I’ll go to our Central College football game, rain or shine3, and hopefully it will be sunny by then.  At this moment it is raining lightly, but it should clear off soon.  Maxine is what is called a “fair weather fan,” meaning that she never goes unless the weather is nice.

      American football begins in the heat of summer’s end, follows the transition4 from early to late autumn, and ends as winter brings snow and cold conditions.  High schools and colleges or universities end football season with state and national championships in November and December, but professional football continues, ending its playoffs5 in late February.

      People who come from other countries often have the impression6 that American football is a dangerous and aggressive sport7, something of a carryover from the Roman “lions vs. the sacrificial humans”8 who fought to death in the arenas of Roman rule.  In fact, all of the types of football have a taint9 of aggression and competition in them, but American football players do have protective pads10 and equipment including helmets11, face guards12, teeth pads, shoulder pads, rib pads and hip pads as well as cleated shoes13 to give better traction14 on grass or artificial turf15.  In all types of football, the players suffer knee, foot, ankle and concussion16 injuries at about the same level in each type.  Most football teams now have excellent physical training and trainers, and usually a team doctor on hand17 for every game.

      In addition, despite the angry shouts from some football fans, there are well trained officials to make sure that fair play in accordance with the complex rules is adhered to18, and there are severe penalties19 for rough play20 which might lead to injuries.  Also, the four officials on the field are responsible for keeping good sportsmanship21 during the game, and they give penalties for taunting22, excessive celebration, or foul language23 by the players or coaches.

     I know some people will disagree with me, but I think that collegiate football is the most interesting of all football competition.  Granted24, the large university games use mostly athletic scholarships to lure25 the best athletes, and often give them many rewards not available to other students.  But, at the small college level athletic scholarships are not permitted, and the players are representative26 of the student body27 in academic skills and abilities. The game I will attend today will be between Central College and Coe College, both small liberal arts colleges who have very competitive athletic programs. I hope that Central wins and remains undefeated this year, but even so, it is enjoyable to watch the efforts of truly amateur28 student athletes as they compete on the field.  It is nice to know that nearly any team can beat any other team in this type of competition.  Nobody can accurately determine in advance who will win, but as they say in the U.S., “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game29.”  Still, winning is often more fun than losing, and “That’s why they still play the games30.”


1. rugby, Australian football, touch football: all variations of the game of football (不同形式的足球).

2. in pursuit of: in hopes of trying to win or gain something or some goal (追求).

3. rain or shine: whether the weather is good or bad (风雨无阻).

4. transition: the movement from one thing to another, or one type of weather to another, etc. (过渡)

5. playoffs:(常规赛季后的)夺标决赛

6. impression: a feeling, or first thought after seeing something (印象,感觉).

7. dangerous and aggressive sport: 危险又进攻性强的比赛

8. carryover from the Roman lions vs. the sacrificial humans: 这是古罗马的“狮子与作为牺牲品的人的决斗”的继续。“Roman lions vs. the sacrificial humans referrs to ancient Rome when one favorite type of spectator sport was that of putting a ferocious lion into an arena with an unarmed human and causing them to fight to the death of one or another.  Usually the humans were slaves or prisoners, and most of them died in the fighting.

9. taint: a small amount of aggression; having at least some aggression (玷污).

10. protective pads: a number of types of padding placed over parts of the body which might be injured without padding (护垫).

11. helmets: headgear to avoid concussion from blows to the head (头盔).

12. face guards: plastic shields mounted to the front of a helmet to avoid injury to the eyes, nose or teeth of the player (防护面罩).

13. cleated shoes: 加了防滑钉的鞋子

14. traction: movement without slipping or sliding (附着摩擦力).

15. artificial turf: grass-like surface made from plastic or rubber attached to matting (人造草皮).  This provides a reliable playing surface in all types of weather and should reduce injury to the players.

16. concussion: blows to the head which cause some damage to the tissue surrounding the brain (脑震荡).

17. on hand:在场,到场

18. fair play in accordance with the complex rules is adhered to: 遵照复杂的规则坚持公道。 

19. penalties: punishments given because of wrongdoing (惩罚).

20. rough play:野蛮踢球

21. sportsmanship: desirable conduct, such as fairness , respect for ones opponent, and graciousness in winning or losing, when one is participating in a competition (运动员品格). 

22. taunting: mocking or challenging in an insulting manner (嘲笑,奚落).

23. foul language: language that is offensive in nature; it may be abusive or obscene and certainly is not acceptable when used by athletic participants (下流话).

24. granted: something is assumed to be true in a particular situation (承认,即便如此). 

25. lure: attract strongly (引诱,诱惑)

26 representative: serving as a typical or characteristic example (有代表性的)

27. student body: the group of students enrolled at a college or university (全体学生)

28. amateur: 业余的 

29. Its not whether you win or lose, but how you played the game.: An old adage (saying) that stresses the fact that one does not always need to win and that the important thing is to try hard and to be a good sportsman while doing so (不在于输赢,而在于你在运动中的表现). 

30. “That’s why they still play the games.”: an idiomatic phrase/old adage. Even though most people think they know who is expected to win in an athletic contest, it is never certain, so we often say that a game must be played to see who will actually win the game.  Often there are .surprises and luck may cause different results than expected. The weaker team on that particular day may beat the stronger team. This is why athletic events are interesting to people who play them and who watch them,. And this is the reason why they must be played to determine the winner.









Women’s World of March Madness[1]

Monday, March 16th, 2009

       Last week, the first weekend in March, Pella Public High school competed in the Iowa Women’s High School Basketball championships2, the first step of March Madness, which may be defined as the frantic, almost manic behavior of basketball fans3 related to championship tournaments4 during the month of March.  Basketball championships are held at every level of the sport, for both males and females, from high school through professional levels.  There are about 500 high schools in Iowa5, so it is considered an honor when one’s favorite basketball team qualifies for the championship tournament.  This year the Pella Community High School’s women’s team had a season’s record of 24 wins and 1 loss; they won their conference competition6 in basketball, and thus qualified7 to enter the state-level championship tournament.

       One might ask where all of this enthusiasm for a sport began. When developed in about 1892, the sport of basketball was a men’s-only sport, invented by James Naismith8, a YMCA9 physical education instructor in Springfield, Massachusetts.  It was devised as a conditioning exercise10 for men between the football and baseball seasons.  Naismith moved to Lawrence, Kansas, began coaching basketball at the University of Kansas, and the game became popular and spread rapidly, largely because it could be played indoors, free from the harsh winters in that part of the country.

       Women’s basketball began in about the 1920s, mostly in high schools in Kansas11, Iowa, and Oklahoma12.  Women were believed to be physically weaker, and unable to repeatedly run the length of the basketball court.  For this reason, women’s basketball became a 6-player sport instead of a 5-player sport as in men’s basketball.  Three players were “shooters” and played only in the forward court beyond the center line: the other three were “guards” and played only in the backcourt.  Players could not cross the center line, and a player could make only one bounce or “dribble13” of the ball before passing to another player or shooter.  It soon became apparent that specialization in skills resulted in shooting accuracy for women which was much higher than in men’s basketball.  In Iowa in the 1950s, one woman player in Iowa scored more than 100 points in a single game, and she averaged about 75 points per game14.  Free throw shooting15 percentage for women was also higher than for men at that time.

       In Iowa, women’s basketball became so popular that virtually every high school having more than six women in the school had a basketball team, often the pride of the entire community16.  Women’s basketball was often a reason why consolidation of smaller rural schools17 was not approved by vote of the community residents.  No small town wanted to lose its women’s basketball team by losing its school.  In Iowa, 6-player women’s basketball became well organized, but in other states the women often played 5-player basketball with rules like those of men’s basketball.

       Initially18 state tournaments made no distinction between smaller and larger schools, and many small schools were known for their women’s basketball teams.  As the sport became more popular, competition at the state level was divided into classes depending upon the number of students in the school.  Currently there are four divisions, the smaller schools in the 1A class followed by 2A, 3A and 4A for the large city schools.  Teams play in conferences or groups of schools of similar size, and they compete at the regional level to reach state championship competition.  

       By the1950s women’s basketball began in colleges and universities as a 5-player sport with rules identical19 to men’s basketball.  It soon became evident that Iowa’s female basketball players, whose skills, however excellent, were those of only a shooter, or only a guard, did not prepare them for collegiate level basketball20. There was a movement throughout the U.S. to change women’s 6-player basketball to a 5-player sport in high schools as well, but Iowa resisted21 this change for a few years.

       However, improved physical conditioning for women athletes permitted them to easily convert22 to 5-person basketball.  By 1960, when the Iowa High School Women’s Athletic Association finally approved a change to 5-player rules, a large number of schools continued to play 6-player basketball and there were two separate basketball championship tournaments held, the 6-player and the 5-player competitions.

       By this time women’s basketball was played in virtually every state in the U.S. In the mid-1960s the National Collegiate Athletic Association was given the mandate23 by the U.S. Supreme Court24 that women’s sports at the college/university level must be supported financially at the same level as men’s sports.  In effect25, this was the end of 6-player basketball in Iowa, and within a few years only 5-player championship tournaments were held.

      March Madness can be seen readily at the women’s high school basketball tournaments.

 Fans show off26 their school colors27   For example, Pella High School has green and white as their official colors.  Some fans may paint their faces, half green, half white, some dye their hair the school colors, some wave pompoms28 or school flags, some have noise makers, and odd clothing.  Many fans display large posters in green and white colors, and some young men even shed their shirts and have large green letters painted on their chests to spell out PELLA, or DUTCH29 , the nickname for Pella’s teams.  There is loud shouting, playful antics30, and much laughter and foot stamping31; especially if the game is closely contested.  Often the losing team is in tears, along with their cheerleaders and ardent32 fans.  Sometimes, the winning players are in tears as well, as their emotions finally show and they realize their fondest dreams of victory!  Winning teams hold high their shiny trophy33 which is presented to them by some prominent34 supporter of the tournament.  State and national politicians are often in attendance35, and interviewed prominently on TV. Some admit to having attended the women’s tournament for more years than they care to remember. Coaches also often show emotions of joy or disappointment36. Pella fans and players had had high hopes of winning a state championship but they lost by a score of 43-40.  Receiving a second place trophy did little to stop the flow of tears.  Still, the community and the players were proud of their team, and as they say, “Just wait until next year!”

       Last week’s edition of March Madness gives way37 this week to the Men’s High School Basketball tournament, and in about two weeks the college/university national championships will occur, followed later by professional38 basketball championships.

       Well, the madness is upon us, and the weather is appropriately cold and snowy.  Maybe this is, after all, a good way to escape the doldrums39 of winter weather at this time of year, and it certainly is effective in developing fan support for schools everywhere.


1. March Madness: excessive enthusiasm or loud, overt behavior typical of athletic fans at an athletic event or competition (疯狂的三月).

2. championships: 锦标赛

3. the frantic, almost manic behavior of basketball fans: 篮球粉丝的紧张、几近疯狂的行为。

4. tournaments: 锦标赛,联赛

5. Iowa: the name of a state in the Midwest region of The United States (爱荷华州,美国中西部地区的一个州).

6. conference competition: In the U.S. schools of about the same size and in the same geographic area are combined into groups, referred to as conferences, which compete with one another in athletic, musical, and academic contests (联合会比赛,在美国大小相同的又在同一地区的几所学校称作联合会, 互相在体育,音乐以及学科方面展开竞赛).  These may be changed as school sizes change.  Pella High School is currently a member of the Little Hawkeye Conference consisting of 8 schools in south central Iowa.

7. qualified: meeting the requirements for a certain activity or office (够资格的).

8. James Naismith: the name of an athletic coach responsible for inventing the game of basketball (詹姆斯•奈史密斯,体育教练,篮球创始人).

9. YMCA: an organization, the Young Mens Christian Association, formed in 1881 in Springfield, Massachusetts to promote physical and spiritual development in young men (基督教青年会,该组织于1881年在马萨诸塞州的斯普林菲尔德建立,旨在促进年青人身体和思想的发展).

10. conditioning exercise: development of muscular strength and endurance by physical exercise (提高肌肉强度和耐力的体育锻炼).

11. Kansas: 堪萨斯州

12. Oklahoma: 俄克拉荷马州

13. dribble: in basketball, move the ball along with you by short bounces, or hits (篮球运球).  In mens 5-player basketball a player may advance with the ball by dribbling as many times as necessary to move to a desired area.  In womens 6-player basketball the players are permitted only one bounce when moving on the court.

14. she averaged about 75 points per game: this means that in each game she scored about 75 points in the basketball games in which she played (她平均每场比赛投篮得75).  Many athletic performances are stated in average points, or wins over a period of time.

15. free throw shooting: in basketball, an unguarded shot or shots taken by a player from the free throw line which is 15 feet from the goal (basket) (投罚球,在距离球篮15英尺的罚球线没人阻拦地投球). Free throws are awarded to a player of one team when an opposing player makes physical contact that interferes with the normal play of the game.

16. the pride of the entire community:整个社区的骄傲

17. consolidation of smaller rural schools: the combining of smaller schools in the rural area into a larger school (农村小学校的合并).

18. Initially: at the beginning (最初).

19. identical: exactly the same, or very similar (一模一样).

20. collegiate level basketball: 大学层次的篮球赛

21. resisted: tried to prevent a change from happening (抵制).

22. convert: change into a different form of thing (转变).

23. mandate: a regulation or rule required as a result of legislation or court order (命令,指令).  The U.S. Supreme Court, in a ruling on equal opportunity in higher education, Title IX, required that schools offering athletic competition for one sex are required by law to offer athletic training and competition in the same sport for the opposite sex. i.e., if men’s basketball is offered in a college or university, then women’s basketball must be supported at an equivalent level.

24. the U.S. Supreme Court:美国最高法院

25. In effect: 实际上,事实上

26. show off: try to make people admire what you have (炫耀,卖弄).

27. school colors: the specific colors for each school chosen as its own representative colors, ie. black and white, red and gold, etc. (学校的代表颜色,如黑与白色,红与金色).  This choice is usually made by the school administration, or by a vote of all members of the school community.  These colors are recognized as the “official colors” for that school system and may be used on athletic uniforms, school flags, etc.

28. pompoms: an item consisting of many colored strips of paper of the school colors, mounted at the end of a short stick, to be held in the hand and waved or used in cheering or supporting ones athletic team (大绒球,用许多代表学校颜色的细纸条做成,绑在一根短棒头上,欢呼或支持自己的运动队时,抓在手上挥舞用).

29. DUTCH: The nickname which Pella Community High School has adopted for its athletic teams (荷兰人,派拉地区高级中学为自己的运动队取的别名).  The nickname was chosen because Pella was originally settled by immigrants from the Netherlands (Holland) and the city still shows many evidences of the Dutch culture, and many of the family names in the schools are Dutch.

30. antics: behavior that seems strange, funny, silly, or annoying (滑稽行为).

31. foot stamping: 跺脚

32. ardent: showing strong feelings of love (热切的,热情的).

33. trophy: an award given to the victorious team in an athletic event (奖杯).

34. prominent: important

35. in attendance: at a special or important event (出席).

36. disappointment: 失望

37. gives way: be replaced (让路,由……取代).

38. professional: 职业的

39. doldrums: a state of inactivity or stagnation often associated with adverse stormy weather during the winter (萧条,停滞,往往是跟冬天不利的风暴天气有关).