In lesson three of our Sports in America free English class series, we will look at one of the most popular sports in the United States: basketball!
Approximately 15 minutes
Hoops, Dribbling, and Basketball!
Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.
Though basketball is a popular sport around the world, the most well-known players and teams reside in the United States. Like many other American sports, basketball is played at both the collegiate and professional levels. However, professional players are paid millions of dollars, while college players are often compensated with scholarships.
In college, the best teams compete to enter the playoffs, which consist of two initial rounds, followed by the Sweet 16 (the top 16 teams compete), the Elite 8 (the top 8 teams compete), the Final 4 (the top 4 teams compete), and finally, the National Championship (the top 2 teams compete).
In the NBA (National Basketball Association), the playoffs consist of 4 rounds: First Round, Conference Semifinals, Conference Finals, and NBA Finals.
Whether it's collegiate, professional, or recreational, the rules of the game are pretty much the same. Two teams compete to score the most points by shooting (throwing) the basketball through a hoop that stands about 10 feet off the ground. There is one hoop on each end of the basketball court, each designated for one of the teams. The game is divided into four, 12-minute quarters (plus timeouts and possibly overtime).
When a player is holding the basketball, they can essentially do one of three things: pass, shoot, or dribble. Players are required to dribble the basketball while they walk or run. The number of points that a player scores when they make a shot will depend on where they are standing when they shoot the ball.
There is a semicircle surrounding each hoop known as the “three-point line.” If a player shoots from inside this line, they can score two points; if they shoot from outside this line, they can score three points. If a player is fouled, they can also get the opportunity to shoot from the free-throw line, which earns them one point for each successful shot.
Professional basketball began in the United States in the 1940s, though the sport dates back to the 1890s. Since professional basketball began, it has grown in both size and popularity. Originally, there were 8 professional teams that competed every year. Today, there are 30 NBA teams representing cities all over the country.
Thanks to its widespread popularity, the NBA has produced a number of high-profile athletes. While many fans and sports commentators argue about the best player of all time, there are a few names that consistently make the list. Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Lebron James, and Kobe Bryant are generally considered some of the best athletes to ever play the game.
Here's a video clip explaining the rules of basketball:
Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in bold from the passage:
Grammar Center: Narrative Present
As previously stated, a sports commentator (also known as a sports announcer) provides live commentary of a game. Most sporting events, including basketball, have a sports commentator for television and radio broadcasts. Since sports commentators are reporting events as they happen, they generally use what is called the narrative present (also known as the “historic” or “dramatic” present).
In the narrative present, the present tense is used to describe actions and discuss events that are happening in the current moment or in the very recent past. It is also used to talk about a novel, movie, or breaking news story. Here is a sample sports broadcast using the narrative present:
Now Steph Curry is in possession of the ball. Curry passes to Draymond Green. Green dribbles the ball past the defender. Green passes to Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins shoots. He scores with just 2 seconds left on the clock!
As you can see, sports commentators use the present tense to quickly recount events as they occur. However, if a sports commentator is discussing events that happened previously in the game (like in a previous quarter or any time prior to the current moment), they will use some form of the past tense.
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