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Sports Debates

Sport is a reliable topic for good debates. There is always something in the news to make the issues topical, and even people who don’t usually like debating will want to give their opinion.

We are using this topic to practice our ability to debate and support our arguments. Check this tutorial on conversational strategies to help your English sound more natural.

When dealing with a controversial topic, you have to think of arguments and counter-arguments before giving your own point of view. Have this information taken from debatepedia as an example:

0. Is sport really good for us?

Sport is a great way to stay fit and healthy.

Most sports involve teamwork and teach us how to get along with others, how to work together to achieve a common goal, and about trust and responsibility.

All sports teach us about dealing with success and failure.

Sport is competitive because life is competitive.

Sport encourages a sense of belonging and identity, bringing people together in our fragmented society.

Sport gives us role models to look up to and try to copy.

It is important to keep fit, but sport is not the only way to do this.

Eating well is a big part of a healthy life, and many people prefer to exercise in other ways, for example jogging, working out in a gym, dancing, or even gardening.

Sport does teach children lessons, but not always good ones. Many children are not naturally talented and only come across failure and embarrassment on the sports field.

Sport makes people too competitive and encourages the worst sides of human nature.

Sport also encourages tribalism and an us-against-them attitude. The unity of the group depends on feelings of aggression and hostility towards other groups.

Now, it’s your turn; the arguments below run on the particular sporting issues we dealt with in class. These are some of the ideas that came out in our class discussion.

Choose a topic now and write an opinion essay about it.

1. Are sports people worth their salaries?

Most people feel that athletes’ salaries are too high. Current sports salaries are reaching astronomical figures. Do they deserve it?

Why do athletes and entertainers make more money than doctors or teachers?

Money and pay is dependent on good performance

They produce a lot of money

Athletes often concentrate more on money than their sport.

Money in sports often causes athletes to abandon their home countries

2. Is sexism rife in sports?

Sexism in sport

The organizing bodies of tournaments in several sports currently offer ‘uneven’ prize funds, paying the champion of the men’s competition more than the women’s. That’s have several key points to discuss:

Sport or not, the widely accepted principle of equal pay in the workplace ought to be applied – after all, these are professionals with jobs that should be treated like any other. Sports fans are interested in the highest levels of performance, so the highest athletic prizes should go to the competitors who are strongest, fastest, most powerful or who have the greatest endurance, i.e. men.

3. Should the state financially support elite athletes?

State involvement with the funding of elite athletes is generally tied to the prestige of Olympic medals and international achievement.

The ways in which elite athletes are funded differ significantly worldwide but generally contain 3 elements: i) Funding directly from the state, ii) Funding from Charities and private institutions and iii) Sponsorship.

Do sports stars earn too much?

Many talented athletes cannot devote themselves full time to the extensive training required to compete at Olympic level, instead they often have to work part-time to fund their living and training costs.

The funding squeeze unfairly affects sports that are not considered commercially attractive by sponsors.

The money could be better spent on related areas such as health and education or on increasing the number of sports available at school or club level.

4. Should sport be compulsory at school?


In the UK, Physical Education (PE) is compulsory in state schools until the age of 16 – that is, that sports are compulsory for as long as education is compulsory. Every year, more and more parents complain to their children’s schools about PE; they believe that their children shouldn’t have to participate in physical activity if they don’t want to. Proponents of PE, however, believe that it is a crucial element of all-round schooling – and our society’s well-being.

Participation in sport promotes health.Government is, or should be, concerned with the health of its citizens.

School sport is about discovering gifts. If not driven by PE, many in society wouldn’t find out that they had a talent for a sport, or even that they enjoyed it.

Once experienced, sport can be enjoyed for life

Students should be allowed a choice.Sport is a waste of school time and resources.

One or two PE lessons a week make very little difference to an individual’s health.

It’s a breeding ground for bullying and making fun of untalented children.

5. Should boxing be banned?


Boxing is a very popular sport, enjoyed by millions across the world. It is also a dangerous sport. Over 1000 boxers have died during or just after fights in the past one hundred years. Many more have been damaged for life by injuries in the boxing ring.

Boxing is a very dangerous sport. Every year both amateur and professional boxers die in matches, or afterwards as a result of injuries.

The sport appeals to the worst and most violent parts of human nature. Such a savage sport has no place in modern society.

Boxing has to have stricter rules than other sports because it is so much more dangerous.

Boxing makes violence look cool. The money and fame a few champion boxers get for hitting people sends the wrong message to young people.

Boxers know the risks of their sport and choose freely to fight. They are also well-paid for the dangers of fighting.With running, boxing is the purest form of sport.

All sport is about testing the human body and reactions against others.

Both professional and amateur fights are run under very strict rules to make the risks as small as possible.

Boxing isn’t just about a few minutes of violent activity. It is also about thousands of hours of hard training and self-discipline – that’s not a bad message to send to young people.

6. Doping: banned substances


Drugs are illegal and banned in sport. They can cause serious bodily damage and are addictive. However, in some cases, they can be used to enhance athletes’ performances in sport. Because of this, athletes take the opportunity to enhance their performances.

Sport is based on natural abilityAthletes should be punished severely for breaking the law.

A life-time sports ban does not fit the crime of drug use. Athletes should get a second chance after first conviction for drug use.

Some athletes have ongoing problem, eg. diabetes that need medication. Medicinal drugs are not performance-enhancing.

Athletes should be given the choice to use performance-enhancing drugs

Performance-enhancing drugs are consistent with historical trends.

Cheats keep cheating.

Painkiller medication kills pain – that will enhance performance. If they need medication, they really shouldn’t be competing

Once some people choose to use drugs to enhance their performance, other athletes have their freedom of choice infringed upon: if they want to succeed they have to take drugs too.

7. Is it worth hosting the Olympic games?

For 17 days every four years the Summer Olympics attract the world’s attention and the host city gets immense media coverage. Yet many argue that the huge cost of hosting the Olympic games means that cities are left with crippling bills and empty stadia once those 17 days are over.

Hosting the Olympics stimulates regeneration, investment, and long-term economic benefits.

Hosting creates a ‘feelgood factor’. It is hard to put a price on the buzz that surrounds international sporting events.

Hosting has an impact on the whole nation.

The lasting impact of this will be a generation of young people who are excited about sport.

Hosting is very expensive. In recent times the Olympics have never made a direct profit.

There is no guarantee that a city will experience a ‘feelgood factor’. In Athens many of the events had empty seats as the Greek team failed to do well enough to capture the local imagination.

Hosting only affects one city. In large countries like the United States or China, the benefits of the Olympics are almost entirely focused on the host city.

8. Should human beings be allowed to use other animals as objects of sport and entertainment?

This debate is not about whether it is right for human beings to farm and eat other animals; it’s about various other uses of animals for sport, pleasure, and entertainment. A wide variety of examples from different cultures around the world might be brought into this debate: ‘blood sports’ such as fox and stag hunting, and fishing; forms of entertainment using performing animals, such as circuses; and sports in which animals perform for human enjoyment, such as horse racing and bull fighting. Views on these issues are often very culture-specific – e.g. some Spanish people may find it easy to accept bull fighting, or some British people may feel more sympathy with fox hunting – these practices can form part of a national culture. Nonetheless, animal rights advocates find these to be the most indefensible ways that humans treat other animals.

Hunting and fishing are natural activities – many other species in the wild kill and eat each other and there is no reason why we should be any different.

Differences of opinion on killing and hunting must be tolerated

All forms of sport and entertainment that exploit non-human animals should be banned; animals, like us, can feel fear, stress, exhaustion, and pain.

Hunting is no sport; animals don’t know they’re in the game; it’s not a competition between equal parts.

Hunting is a barbaric form of killing for pleasure.

All cultures throughout history have used animals in the context of sport and entertainment,

9. Should children be allowed to work in the performing arts or professional sports?

Child performers (actors, singers, figure-skaters, gymnasts etc.) often form an exception on the ban on child labour existing in most countries. Provided with on-set or on-pitch tutors, they can train or perform for many hours each week on top of their schoolwork. For some, this results in Olympic medals or multi-million dollar movies before they reach adulthood. Others are less lucky, gaining little success for their hard work and suffering physical or emotional damage that hampers their later life. There are many high profile cases of child actors, like Drew Barrymore who go off the rails with drink and drugs and equally high profile are the dancers, gymnasts and skaters who struggle with eating disorders.

If children are working they are not spending their time in formal education.

Children are less able to make decisions for themselves and to represent their interests. This leaves them at risk of exploitation in the workplace.

Young bodies are not well protected against the rigors of regular physical training.

Allowing children to perform pushes them to grow up too soon. They are exposed to levels of responsibility, sexuality and temptation (e.g. drink, drugs) without the maturity to cope, and it is no wonder that so many child stars go off the rails

Working in a profession like acting, or training as a football player may be a better preparation for some children’s future than school-based learning.

Simply banning child performers will not prevent the possibility of exploitation, merely place it out of reach of scrutiny. At the moment, child performers are official employees and as such their pay, hours and conditions are all monitored by government departments

Modern attitudes to children are a recent cultural development; for centuries children had to go out to work and were treated as adults from a much younger age than today.

10. Are sports becoming too dangerous?

Are people going too far in their desire to seek new challenges and test their physical and mental resolve?


Sport has become a branch of the entertainment business and the public demands “higher, faster, stronger” from athletes.

There is no audience if the sport is dull.

When you compare the number of accidents in sports with the number of accidents on roads it is obvious that ‘extreme sports’ are really not that dangerous.

11. Is it important for sports stars to have a squeaky-clean image?

Celebrities are everywhere – on TV, in movies and all over the Internet. They are media darlings that wield considerable financial and influence. Bur for every Britney Spears or Paris Hilton that represent negative influences on young people, there are celebrities who instill in young people what it means to bring back to the less fortunate – Bono, Oprah Winfrey Angelina Jolie, etc.


Children look at them as if they were superheroes and want to imitate them.

Many of them are bad role models. Many behave badly, on the field and off, and so set a bad example to children.

Sportsmen have achieved great results because of strong will, hard work and dedication. So those qualities deserve to be priced.”Morality” is not a sport.

Teachers. clergy and politicians should be the only role models.

Celebrities don’t have to be perfect to set a good example.

Categories: 5. Play to win, Classwork
  1. nainee
    March 24, 2012 at 7:26 am

    Good work guys really good luv it

  2. Jessica Nieto
    March 14, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    We see babies in nappies advertisements, teen actors and actresses becoming celebrities, young gymnasts winning gold medals in high competitions sports…That makes us think that it would be almost impossible to concieve a world without the incursion of children in the performing arts or professional sports.
    Many people think that children should work within certain guidelines. Depending on the age of the child, there need to be limits on the number of hours a day a child can work, and their education must come first, mainly, because performing arts and professional sporting careers can end at any time, but there is no substitute for a good education.
    On the other hand, there are many people who believe that children should always be allowed to work in the performing arts or professional sports, because all children have something they love and enjoy doing and adults should help them to achieve their goals and take advantage of their skills.
    In any case, I think that the balance is the key. Children who like performing or doing sports by themselves and not pushed by their parents could work if they take this as a game and never as a job. They must put their education and interest first, in any case, they have to feel obliged to do anything. Of course, they always have to be supervised by adults to avoid exploitation.

  3. montse
    March 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    YES, I think that sport at school should be compulsory
    Children spend most of their time at school where is a good place to do sport.
    Sport is an important subject, it is practiced twice a week, which I consider it is not much. In most cases students don´t have another way to do sport. I personally think that doing sport make children more healthier and happier, sport provide students a good relationship with mates and let them to be more interested at any extra school sport which is also very important.

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