Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

0926 Getting an Advantage in Sports

访问量:
Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 926 – Getting an Advantage in Sports.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 926. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to our website at ESLPod.com. Download a Learning Guide for this episode by becoming a member of ESL Podcast.

On this episode, we are going to talk about sports, and in particular, how you can get an advantage – how you can do better than other people in sports. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Tammy: What are you doing this year to give your team an advantage?

Phillip: I have a few tricks up my sleeve. We’re going to have a winning season.

Tammy: Are you going to start Wang?

Phillip: No, I’m redshirting Wang. I want him to sit out his first year so he can sharpen his skills.

Tammy: I’m really surprised. Wang is already a great player and too good to sit on the bench.

Phillip: Trust me, I know what I’m doing. He’ll get an extra year of eligibility and be even better next year.

Tammy: If you say so. What about Schwartz?

Phillip: He’s out for the season. He’s hurt and won’t be able to play.

Tammy: That’s a major blow! He’s your star player, right?

Phillip: He’s a loss, but I have a secret weapon.

Tammy: Oh, yeah?

Phillip: This new player, Pierre, is going to give the other teams a run for their money.

Tammy: Who is he?

Phillip: Just somebody I recruited. Let’s just say he’s talented beyond his years.

Tammy: Huh? You mean he’s a ringer? You’re bringing in a ringer?

Phillip: Of course not. He’s just a little more experienced than my other players, and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Tammy: Only if nobody catches on.

Phillip: Catches on to what?

[end of dialogue]

Tammy begins our dialogue by asking Philip, “What are you doing this year to give your team an advantage?” An “advantage” is a benefit – something that helps you succeed or helps you do better at whatever it is you're doing. Philip says, “I have a few tricks up my sleeve.” This is an old expression, “to have a few tricks (tricks) up your sleeve (sleeve).” Your “sleeve” is the part of your shirt that goes over your arm. In magic, when you have someone who's performing magic tricks, one of the things they do, I guess, is put things up their shirts and then they pull them out, and it seems like it’s magic.

Well, that's probably the origin, or where we get this expression, “a few tricks up your sleeve.” Basically, it means to have a surprise, to have a surprising plan that you're not telling other people about, that no one else knows about. “To have a few tricks up your sleeve” means to have a few things that you're going to do that are going to help you, even though no one else knows about them.

Phillip says, “We’re going to have a winning season.” A “winning (winning) season” is a period of time when you are playing a particular sport and you are winning at that sport. “Season” is the time when you play a certain sport. So, in the United States, baseball season begins in April and ends in October. Actually, now I think it ends in early November, but that's the basic season – the time of year, the months that we play baseball, professional baseball. A “winning season” would be a season where your team wins most of its games. That's a winning season.

Tammy then asks, “Are you going to start Wang?” Wang is the name of the player. “To start” means to put a certain player on the field or on the court when the game begins. For example, when you have a hockey game or a soccer game, the game begins and you have a certain group of players who are playing for you. Now, they may not play the whole game. You may decide to replace one of them – to take a player out and put another player in – but the players that you put on the field, or you “start” in the game at the beginning, are called the “starters.” They’re called the “starters” because you start, or begin, with them.

Tammy is asking if Philip is going to start Wang, one of his players. Philip says, “No. I'm redshirting Wang.” “To redshirt someone” is sort of a particular phrase that we use in American sports. I'm not sure if it's used in other English-speaking countries. “To redshirt” someone means to take a player, usually a young player, in grade school or high school, and not play them for one year even though they could play. Now, why would you do that? Well, because in some sports, the rules say that a player can only play so many years. If you want a player to get better, to get more mature, you may wait a year and not play the player when they could play by their age, but you decide, because of their experience, you're going to wait and not play them for another year.

So, now they have the same number of years – in terms of what they can play or when they can play – but they will be one year older and, therefore, will have more experience. There are even some parents who will wait and not start their child in school when they're five years old. They’ll wait until they're six years old. So, the child will have a little bit more maturity and therefore advantages over the other children. My mother was just the opposite. She had me go to school as soon as possible – the sooner the better.

Phillip says, “I want him” – I want Wang – “to sit out his first year.” “To sit out” means not to participate. He wants this to happen so that Wang “can sharpen his skills.” “To sharpen (sharpen) your skills” means to become better at something, to become better at doing something, to become more skilled.

Tammy says, “I'm really surprised. Wang is already a great player [and] too good to sit on the bench.” “To sit on the bench” (bench) is a sports expression referring to the players who are not actively participating or playing in the game. If you're sitting on the bench, you're not one of the starters. In fact, you may not play during the game at all. Typically, this is done for players who aren't very good. When I played basketball in seventh grade, I sat on the bench almost the entire year because, of course, I'm not a very good basketball player.

Philip says to Tammy, “Trust me” – believe me – “I know what I'm doing. He’ll get an extra year of eligibility and be even better next year.” “Eligibility” means that you meet the requirements to participate in something. The word comes from “eligible” (eligible), which means you're able to, you have the qualifications for something. Tammy says, “If you say so.” That's an expression we use when you don't really believe the other person, but you don't want to argue about it. You'll just say, “No? Well, okay. I don't believe you, but if that's what you say, then that's fine.”

Tammy says, “What about Schwartz?” (another player). Philip says, “He's out for the season.” “To be out for the season” means that he is not able to play the rest of this season, perhaps because he's injured. And that, in fact, is exactly the case with Schwartz. “He's hurt and won't be able to play.” Tammy says, “That's a major blow.” A “blow” here means a problem. A “major blow” is a big problem. Tammy says, “He's your star player, right?” “He's your best player,” is what Tammy is saying. Your “star (star) player” is your best player. Philip says, “He's a loss,” meaning, “Yes, we will miss him.”

“But,” Phillip says, “I have a secret weapon.” A “weapon” (weapon) is something you use to hurt another person. A “secret weapon,” however, just refers to someone or something that you're going to use that nobody knows about, but is going to be very effective or is going to do a very good job. Tammy says, “Oh, yeah?” Philip says, “This new player, Pierre, is going to give the other teams a run for their money.” The expression “a run (run) for your money” means a challenging or difficult experience – something that is going to be difficult for you to deal with but that you have to deal with if you're going to be successful. Tammy says, “Who is he?” Phillip says, “Just somebody I recruited.” “To recruit” (recruit) means to go out and find someone to bring onto your team or to bring into your organization.

Philip says, “Let's just say he's talented beyond his years.” “Let's just say” is a way of indicating that you're not telling the whole truth, or you’re not telling exactly what you think or what you know, but you're giving the person an indication by using indirect language. Phillip says that Pierre is “talented,” or has a lot of skills, “beyond his years.” If you have something beyond your years, that means you're better than what we would expect for someone your age. If you're ten years old and you're able to do high-level physics and math, we might say that you’re “smart beyond your years.” You know more than what we would expect a ten-year-old to know. That has never happened to me, someone thinking I know more than I should at my age. In fact, it's usually the opposite.

Tammy says, “Huh?” She’s confused. She doesn't know what Philip is really saying. She says, “You mean he's a ringer?” A “ringer” (ringer) – especially an athlete in a sporting game that comes in and is better than everyone else but doesn't qualify – is not really eligible to play. Sometimes it is used just to describe someone who is way more qualified than everyone else and doesn't really belong there. If you can imagine a professional golfer playing with a group of high school students as part of their team, that would be a case of someone who's an obvious ringer.

This does sort of happen sometimes, when you have young men and young women, or young boys and girls, who are great athletes. They even go on and compete in the Olympics. Then they come back, and they go to college, and they're part of their college team. Well, of course their college team is going to win, because they're one of the best athletes in the world at what they do. So, that might be a case of a ringer. I think technically, though, we use this word when someone really should not be there, when you are breaking the rules to have them there.

Philip says, “Of course not” – of course he's not a ringer. “He's just a little more experienced than my other players, and he'll be a force to be reckoned with.” A “force to be reckoned with” is someone who is very strong, someone who cannot be ignored, someone who is very powerful or who will be very good at what they do.

Tammy says, “Only if nobody catches on.” “To catch on” is a two-word phrasal verb, meaning to discover what's really happening, to find out what is really happening, especially in a case where someone is trying to keep something a secret. Philip says, “Catches on to what?” Philip acts as though there's no problem, but Tammy thinks that there is a problem and that Philip knows there's a problem with this ringer – with this player, Pierre, that he's bringing onto the team.

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Tammy: What are you doing this year to give your team an advantage?

Phillip: I have a few tricks up my sleeve. We’re going to have a winning season.

Tammy: Are you going to start Wang?

Phillip: No, I’m redshirting Wang. I want him to sit out his first year so he can sharpen his skills.

Tammy: I’m really surprised. Wang is already a great player and too good to sit on the bench.

Phillip: Trust me, I know what I’m doing. He’ll get an extra year of eligibility and be even better next year.

Tammy: If you say so. What about Schwartz?

Phillip: He’s out for the season. He’s hurt and won’t be able to play.

Tammy: That’s a major blow! He’s your star player, right?

Phillip: He’s a loss, but I have a secret weapon.

Tammy: Oh, yeah?

Phillip: This new player, Pierre, is going to give the other teams a run for their money.

Tammy: Who is he?

Phillip: Just somebody I recruited. Let’s just say he’s talented beyond his years.

Tammy: Huh? You mean he’s a ringer? You’re bringing in a ringer?

Phillip: Of course not. He’s just a little more experienced than my other players, and he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Tammy: Only if nobody catches on.

Phillip: Catches on to what?

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is talented beyond her years, for sure. I speak of the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
advantage – benefit; pro; something that helps one succeed or puts one in a better position

* One of the main advantages of living downtown is that we can walk to work instead of driving.

to have a few tricks up (one’s) sleeve – to have a clever and surprising plan for how to do something, especially when other people have not thought of it before

* It’s going to be really hard to meet the deadline, but our team leader has a few tricks up her sleeve, so we might still be able to do it.

winning season – a season (period of time each year when sports teams play against each other) in which a team wins most of the games it plays

* Let’s practice really hard so that we can have a winning season this year!

to start (someone) – to put a player on the field or court when a game begins

* Coach Henry tries to increase the children’s self-confidence by making sure that he starts every child at least once in the season.

to redshirt (someone) – to make a player wait a year before participating in official games, so that that player can practice with the team and improve, but still play for the full number of years allowed, simply at an older age

* When Gary was redshirted his first year, the practices helped him learn to run more quickly and throw the ball with better aim.

to sharpen (one’s) skills – to become better at doing something; to become more skilled in something

* Justin is taking a class to sharpen his skills in working with computer spreadsheets.

to sit on the bench – to not participate in a game; to be a member of a sports team, but not be on the field or court playing

* Coach Jemima is very strict with her rules. If any players misbehave, she makes them sit on the bench and watch their teammates play.

eligibility – meeting the requirements for being able to participate in something or have something

* Eligibility for this assignment depends on your age, academic degrees, and years of work experience.

out for the season – not available to play for one season (period of time each year when sports teams play against each other), usually because one is injured or has broken the rules

* Sheila broke her arm and the doctor says she is out for the season.

major blow – a big obstacle; a serious problem making something more difficult

* When Lou lost his job last year, it was a major blow financially for the family.

star player – the best, most talented person on a team

* Krystal is the team’s star player. She has scored twice as many points as anyone else on the team.

secret weapon – a hidden advantage that no one knows about that will allow one to win or get what one wants

* The company’s sales have been falling, but we have a secret weapon: a new, improved product that customers will love to buy once we start selling it.

a run for (one’s) money – a challenge; a challenging or difficult experience that one must overcome to get what one wants

* We lost the game, but we gave the other team a run for their money.

to recruit – to make efforts to bring people into an organization as volunteer or new employees, or as a player on a team

* Our company is offering high starting salaries to recruit the best graduates.

beyond (one’s) years – having more of some characteristic than what would be expected for one’s age

* Bo is wise beyond his years, having spent so much time reading and studying.

ringer – a player or athlete who plays in a game against the rules, when it is not allowed, usually because that person does not meet the requirements, often as a substitution for a regular player or athlete

* Marcos looks a lot older than the other players on the team, so a lot of people are wondering whether he’s actually a ringer.

a force to be reckoned with – someone or something that is strong and influential, must be dealt with, and cannot be ignored

* Gun manufacturers are a force to be reckoned with in American politics.

to catch on – to find out what is really happening; to realize what is going on, especially when it is a secret and other people are not explaining it

* How long will it take Sam to catch on that there’s no way to win this game?

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Don mean when he says, “I have a few tricks up my sleeve”?
a) He has purchased new uniforms for the players.
b) He has been studying the sport intensively.
c) He has a clever, secret plan that will help them win.

2. What is Don doing to Gordon this year?
a) He’s going to let Gordon practice with the team, but not play in the games.
b) He’s going to make Gordon wear a special red uniform.
c) He’s going to punish Gordon for not playing well enough.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to start

The verb “to start,” in this podcast, means to put a player on the field or court when a game begins: “How does the coach decide which players to start in each game?” The phrase “to start over” means to do something again, especially if it was not successful the first time: “That waltz sounded terrible! Start over, and this time play the music more slowly so you can concentrate on each note.” The phrase “to start from scratch” means to start at the beginning: “If you’ve never sewn anything before, we’ll need to start from scratch.” Finally, the phrase “to start a family” means to have one’s first baby: “We want to be married for at least three years before we start a family.”

to catch on

In this podcast, the phrase “to catch on” means to find out what is really happening or to realize what is going on, especially when it is a secret and other people are not explaining it: “How did the auditors catch on to the credit card fraud?” The phrase “to not catch (something)” means to not hear or understand what someone has said: “I didn’t catch that. Could you please repeat what you said?” The phrase “catch you later” is used informally to say good-bye: “I’m sorry, but I have to go now. Catch you later.” Finally, the phrase “to catch a ride” means to travel in another person’s car: “If you’re going to Seattle this weekend, can I catch a ride?”

Culture Note
Youth Sports Leagues

In the United States, many cities organize youth sports “leagues” (groups of teams that play games against each other). Youth sports leagues are viewed as ways to help children learn to cooperate with each other, make friends, learn to love “physical fitness” (healthy bodies), and have fun.

Youth sports leagues divide children into teams based on their age, usually beginning around age 3½. The most common sports are soccer, “flag football” (a simpler, gentler form of American football), and basketball. Children usually spend a few weeks in practice sessions to learn the rules of the game, and then they have games for a few weeks “in a row” (sequentially; without a gap).

Youth sports leagues “emphasize” (put a focus on) “inclusion,” or the idea that everyone should be allowed to participate and no one should be excluded. “Regardless of” (without paying attention to) “level of ability” (how well someone can play), everyone is invited to play in each game.

Many youth sports leagues, especially at the younger ages, do not “keep score” (count how many points each team has earned). Parents and other “spectators” (people who watch a game) are encouraged to “cheer” (make happy sounds and clap) for both teams and to emphasize the importance of trying one’s best rather than focusing on winning.

Finally, parents and other “caregivers” (people who care for children) “generally” (typically) play an active role in youth sports leagues. Many of the coaches are volunteers, and usually they are the parent of a player. Other parents are often asked to bring “snacks” (food eaten between meals) to share with all the players after each practice or game, and the teams often have a party after the last game.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - a