The Rules of the Game – IELTS Essay Practice

By | December 8, 2013
Read the article below about sportsmanship. Then answer the comprehension questions and IELTS practice essay question at the bottom of the page. 
Ielts blog - basketball - essay and reading


What does it mean to be a good sport? Good sportsmanship is about respect for the game. It means respecting the players, the rules and the officials. Sportsmanship is  also about enjoying the sport for its own sake. Throughout history, people have enjoyed sports for its own sake. However, sportsmanship has suffered a major blow in the last fifty years. Things began to change after large amounts of money was pumped into sports.

Today, sports is more about money and winning than anything else.

Many are more interested in corporate contracts than the game itself. Also, there is too much idolizing of the winners in a game. Sports is not only about winning. It is about playing fair and playing by the rules. There is nothing wrong with wanting to win. However, winning is only one aspect of sports. There is also camaraderie, discipline, hard work and respect for each other.
As modern athletes become wealthier and more popular, they lose focus of what it means to be an athlete. Nowadays, you see famous athletes practicing risky and crude behavior. Every day we read about players getting arrested for drunk driving or possession of drugs. Some athletes are written about in the newspapers for hitting their wives or others. Others use steroids or other drugs to become better players. All of this makes the  younger generation feel that it is okay to do such things and still be successful. It makes young people forget that bad habits never lead to true success. Being a famous athlete is a great responsibility, and athletes need to take their role seriously.

Athletes themselves do not always get good training from their parents and coaches.

Young athletes need to learn more about the true sportsmanship from their coaches and role models. We have heard of college and high school students who are passed just so they can play in games. Some high school athletes can barely read, yet they have high school diplomas. Their teachers are sometimes forced to give them good grades so that they can play in games.
However, all is not lost. There are things that parents, teachers and coaches can do. First, enjoy simple games with  your child in your backyards, such as Frisbee. Kickball is also a great sport for young people. They enjoy it immensely. If your child is interested in playing sports, enroll him or her in a little league team. However, make sure that the team has a coach who knows what sportsmanship is.

Do not pressure your child or the coach to win at all costs.

Teach your child how to be a team player. This will help him for life.
If you are a teacher, remember that your students are students first and athletes second. Combining good grades with good athletics will make it easier for your students to get into college. If you are a coach, encourage your players to work together and support each other. Remember, it is about them, not about you. Work with your players’ teachers to make sure the students are doing well in school. Also, speak to parents about any major problems your students face. Support your team even if they lose, whether you are a parent, teacher or coach. Build teamwork and life skills in your students through sports.



  1. What does it mean to be a good sport?
  2. How has sports changed in the last 50 years?
  3. What does it mean to “idolize” winners?
  4. What are behavior problems that some famous athletes have?
  5. Why do some schools allow poor student athletes to graduate?
  6. What is one way to teach your child to be a good sport?
  7. What is a little league team?
  8. What two things can help athletes get into college?
  9. When is it a good idea for coaches to talk to parents?
  10. What should you do if your child’s team loses?


You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.
Write about the following topic:
Most high school athletes are not allowed to make money through sports. Do you think that it is fair for athletes to make money playing sports? Why or why not?
Write at least 250 words.

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