University is a place where students can sometimes find it hard to maintain a balance between the various demands of life. Some retreat into their academic studies, building a metaphorical wall between themselves and the world; others lose all control and spend every night trying to alter reality through whatever hedonistic material is available. Still others become lonely away from the home environment, finding it difficult to establish an active social life. The good news is that there are remedies provided for all these things. This article takes a closer look at sports clubs and the way they can help university students to find their feet.
One of the most important ways in which sports clubs can help students is by giving them a chance to keep up with regular fitness training or exercise. This is not only good for the body; for many students, the need to establish and keep to a routine is paramount. Many students become unhappy due to lethargic feelings, or the sedentary nature of academic study. A good blast of fresh air several days a week will blow those library cobwebs away. Of course, one shouldn’t let extra-curricular activities get in the way of one’s degree – after all, students are at university to learn – but provided academic work does not fall by the wayside, getting out there to enjoy the sun (or rain) is well worth it.
University can often seem quite an isolated place, particularly in more rural environments where the student campus is very much the centre of the town’s life. Sports clubs give students the opportunity not only to meet fellow students from other universities, but to engage in healthy competition with them. This engenders a sense of pride in one’s own university, as well as allowing students to see, and learn from, other university settings. If clubs are particularly successful, students may even be spotted by scouts from professional organisations; this has occurred fairly frequently in internationally established sports such as athletics, cricket, rugby and football. The opportunity to participate in competition is undoubtedly a benefit as it builds and strengthens social bonds and gives sports clubs a common target.
Leading on from the element of competition is perhaps the most important, or at least the most popular benefit of sports clubs: the hectic social schedule. Sports clubs’ members are expected to play hard, and then play harder. Sadly in recent times this has led to some scenes of reported excess which have been both unfortunate and dangerous. However, the lurid headlines one reads in the newspapers are not representative of the majority of sports clubs, where students can have a good time without being pressured into actions they may later regret. In particular, the general bonhomie and conviviality of the post-match pint (or shot, or kebab!) is the perfect place to build relationships with fellow players, opponents and supporters alike. And even if you don’t happen to make the team for a particular game – or if you’re ruled out because of injury – you can always go along and cheer from the sidelines, and join the team in the bar later.
Experiments and Challenges
One underrated element of the sports clubs and societies is their ability to offer students new challenges, and the opportunity to experiment. When you begin university, you are basically being given a blank slate: no one knows you, you’ve moved away from your comfort zone and you’re setting out on a new, exciting adventure. Why not experiment with different sports as well? Most students will only have played mainstream sports at their schools, with football, cricket, rugby, netball and hockey ruling the roost. At university, you can try something completely different, such as Snowboarding, Rock Climbing, or even Ultimate Frisbee. Who knows: you might just find something that stays with you throughout your entire life.