I think the lesson is that Greek uses a plural noun where English uses what might be called a "collective" noun. It does bother me that we're asked to learn the word without the article and to determine the gender and singular form (if any) from the plural form. I'm trying to "take notes" as I learn vocabulary but all I've learned here is that I don't need gender or number to learn this expression.
Well, it's not that hard to deyermine the gender in this case. If a word ends in -ικά and it isn't a first name (Ναυσικά, for example), chances are that it's neuter plural. :P
Neuter plural is used often in phrases like Διαβάζω αστυνομικά (βιβλία), Βλέπω αθλητικά (νέα), Βλέπω παιδικά (προγράμματα), Κάνω μαγικά (κολπα/ξόρκια. Depends on context) etc. You don't have to learn it as a rule though. It's not vital. You can always say Διαβάζω αστυνομικά βιβλία, Βλέπω αθλητικά νέα etc and be perfectly understood.^.^