|For the Swiss, sports are an important part of
their leisure activities. In 1972, a federal law ensured government financial
support for the promotion of sports. Exercise and sport are part of children's
education. There are many sports organizations in the country. One of the
largest is the Swiss Association for Football and Athletics.
Hiking is one of the most popular leisure activities
in the country, and there are more than 50,000 kilometres of designated
footpaths. Bicycling is growing in popularity. The Swiss also enjoy swimming,
rowing, sailing, ice hockey, gymnastics, basketball, soccer and hang-gliding.
In the winter months, many people go skiing. Switzerland is famous for
its ski slopes.
|Two sports are unique to Switzerland: hornussen
and schwingen. Hornussen is played by two teams, the "offence"
and the "defence." The offence uses long metal rods with wooden handles
to knock a disc called the hornuss as far as possible down a field. The
defence uses a wooden shield to prevent the disc from getting very far
down the field. If the disc lands on the field without being intercepted,
the defence loses a point. If the defence knocks it down, they gain a point.
Did you know?
1998 and 1999, the top woman tennis player in the world was Swiss-born
|Schwingen is a type of Swiss wrestling.
The wrestlers wear special pants. Each wrestler grabs the waistband of
his opponent with his right hand and a band on his opponent's leg with
his left hand. Then he tries to lift his opponent, throw him down and hold
his back to the ground. When a wrestler loses both handholds or when his
shoulder blades touch the ground, he is defeated. Although this has traditionally
been a man's sport, women are now starting to compete. At the Swiss Alpine
Herdsmen's Festival in Interlaken every August, men engage in schwingen
and boulder throwing. In the boulder-throwing contests, the competitor
who throws an 83.5-kilogram granite stone the farthest is the winner.
|For many Swiss men, social life includes
membership in a guild. Historically, guilds were work associations. Today,
guilds are similar to North American organizations such as the Shriners.
Some see guilds as social clubs for people who enjoy good food, drink and
conversation. Others see them as political clubs of like-minded and economically
influential men. Membership in the guilds is by invitation only and is
reserved for family members of current guild members and for those who
have achieved a certain status in society. Women are not permitted to join.
Did you know?
of the most popular Swiss card games is called Jass (pronounced
Yas), played with 36 cards in 4 suits.