The first important collocation involving sports is when to use the verbs play, do, and go. We typically use play for team sports – you play soccer, play basketball, play tennis, play baseball, and play golf. The verb do is used for more individual sports – you do yoga, do gymnastics, do martial arts, and do aerobics. Also, in more general terms, you do exercise. Another common individual exercise is to lift weights. The verb go is used with most activities that end in –ing: you go swimming, go biking, go surfing, go rock climbing, go bowling, and go fishing. With the team sports, we can use the word game or match: a soccer game, a basketball game, a tennis match, etc. You can win the game, lose the game, or tie the game – that’s when the final score is 1-1 or 2-2, for example.
A team can play a home game – when they play in their own stadium or field – or an away game – when they play at the opposing team’s stadium or field. When there are many teams that are playing many games to see which one is the best, we call this a tournament. When one team is winning in the middle of the game – for example, 3-1 – we say that team has the lead. However, the other team can make a comeback – score points from a losing position – and take the lead, 4-3. With the sports that use “do” and “go,” we typically use the word competition – a gymnastics competition, a martial arts competition, a surfing competition, an ice skating competition, etc. The exception is sports where you go from one place to another – like running, biking, and swimming – in that case, we often call the event a race. Athletes can enter a competition and try to win first place. Some athletes try to enhance their performance with illegal substances such as steroids. But if they fail a drug test, they’ll be disqualified from participating. If the athlete is performing well, they may achieve a personal best – and if they perform better than ANYONE ever has in the past, then they could even break the world record or set a new world record. If they get injured, however, they might have to withdraw from the competition (voluntarily leave the competition).