Which uni sport should you join?
Got to do something with your Wednesday night
There’s no need to go to the uni sports fair and listen to hundreds of speeches about why you should join a certain team. It’s far easier to read an exhaustive and comprehensive study of all of them all in one go.
What can be said about Rugby that hasn’t already been spewed in hundreds of thousands of ranty thinkpieces on Huffpo and talked to death in tragic NUS meetings? From the naked initiations to the dark rumours about the basement in the second team captain’s house, everything about them seems to confirm the worst stereotypes of everything terrible about uni sports, but there is more to them than that.
You know what will be absolutely legendary? Let’s make all the freshers eat all their food out of a frisbee for the next week hahahahahahahahahahaha.
Inside jokes and lame hashtags are the order of the day, as well as two XL pizzas because rowers can eat what they want. As they should, since that’s the only thing they can do outside rowing, besides post pictures of rowing, talk about rowing, go to rowers houses for non-alcoholic drinks and go on row socials.
Socials on which nearly every member is dragged home vomiting because it’s the first drop of alcohol they’ve had in six months and they can’t believe how sick it was when the DJ dropped “All About That Bass”. Worth it though, because at least then they can’t remember the one night they didn’t have to be in bed by 11 to get up for five.
No one on campus can compete with them on dedication though.
You, Henrietta and Mimi travelled to trials together and hung out loads in Freshers’ week. Then they found people that went to similar schools to them and now you don’t make eye contact. Like hockey, but in the air, heightening with it their sense of self. Probably some of the most attractive, sophisticated girls on campus with equal grit, these gals are wife material through and through.
They’ve never waterskiied before, and the fact you’re living on a land-locked concrete campus isn’t going to stop them now. Joining a society is all about bonding, and what better way is there to do so than on a packed two-hour minibus towards the nearest non-toxic body of water, or bobbing up and down in a freezing lake for a further two while Tom hogs the rope trying to show how he can drop a ski.
Who cares if you only got to do five minutes of watersports? It’s the involvement that counts.
If you thought the bum slapping of a rugby shower was team bonding, try spending hours on end sweating and grunting with one other player inside four walls with a constant sense that they’ll close in on you any minute. The clique of squash players is like no other.
It’s basically Fight Club without the destruction – unless it’s a Wednesday night. That group on the dancefloor with their arms around each other singing along to Wonderwall? Squash. The eight girls who piled into one cubicle together? Squash. The two guys holding each other’s junk at the urinals? Squash.
There’s nothing quite as depressing as turning up to practice when there’s barely enough of you to make a full squad. It gets worse when you scrape four of you together for sports night (of which two are your mates who just wanted to check out rugby in their speedos) after Durham have annihilated you 3-0 in your match, and no one knows who you are or what your team is: “Wait we have a volleyball team?”
The year passes, the team doesn’t grow but still, it’s nice to be a close-knit group. Then, TOUR. This is it. This is the moment volleyball comes into its own. But then only seven of you sign up, including your sister who just wanted a holiday.
Something happens when you move from safe secondary school to university, in which netball goes from the game that weirdos who liked PE played to the cattiest and blondest group on campus. Netball is a place for attractive blonde girls from the home counties to get drunk together, queue jump into clubs, and probably cry a lot.
Note: none of them actually like each other.
7:30am. Wake up to the sound of Alan Brazil and the Talksport team. 8:40am. Leave the house for lectures, headphones in and listening to the Anfield Wrap podcast. Sit on the bus reading this morning’s BBC Gossip column.
See Tony outside the lecture theatre. Tell him about Andre Villas Boas being lined up to replace Mourinho. He says back the same thing he says every morning: “Yeah I know, saw that too. And did you see that Messi rumour?” Nod in agreement, hiding your disappointment you weren’t able to say something he didn’t already know.
Tony’s a winger and scored 12 goals last season. He’s an arse. 1pm. Lunch. Sit with the same three mates and have the same, repetitive conversations. 4:30pm. Head home and turn the TV on. Sky Sports News.
Fist pump: Charlotte Jackson’s presenting. She’s much fitter than Natalie Sawyer, despite what Tony tells everyone. 6:30pm. To the pub. It’s Champions League night and Arsenal are going to bottle it again. Place a bet on the way to the pub. Order a burger. With bacon. Get a good table and wait for the rest of the lads to filter in.
Check Twitter for the team news, it’s important to know it before the rest of the pub. Smash cut: 10:30pm. Nine pints in and the crew have made the impulsive decision to go out for the night. Sure there are no girls, but who needs girls? The boys are here and the night is young.
Hail a taxi. Take the piss out of James for having shit chat. The whole crew have shit chat but at least his is the shittest. 4:00am. Huge kebab. Fall asleep in clothes. Remember to close the porn on your laptop first. Forget to set your alarm. Puke.
Rugby is too laddy, football is full of prima donnas and cricket don’t play enough. So the athletic ones amongst us try hockey instead. Whoever played at school either paid for their education or were part of some niche extra-curricular activity, so chances are it’s full of novices – making watching your friend play hockey a real chore.
They’ll still have just as much fun as all the others: Amy Winehands on coaches back from the midlands, team socials to the casino after a Wednesday night in blue shirt and chinos and anything else you associate with a sport team. Just this time, instead of having a reputation that is one way or the other, hockey sit on their fence, in a grey area of liminal existence, minding their own business.
Rowing’s older and less attractive sibling. Fun in theory, but not particularly socially acceptable at university. Still, the hours are less and you never have to sweat off extra weight before a race (since there are none).
Cricket club is a place for vaguely posh boys to play the game twice a year and spend the rest of the year drinking. A lot. It really is the most British of sports, with games being rained off 95% of the time, and the rest of the time you are encouraged to drink while you sit on your arse and watch it. The cricket boys are probably drunk for the majority of their degree and there is no requirement at all to actually play the game. Ever.
A cool wind blows in from the north, and Aaron feels his dissertation folder fluttering – briefly, so briefly. Something doesn’t feel right. No, it feels too right, too calm. He looks up to the dark sky before wrenching his pager from his ink-stained shirt pocket and punching in Gill’s number. She knows the drill: meet on Dun Hill with a rain mac and a packed lunch.
They try not to think about the last time as they race to the viewpoint, but somehow the thoughts creep back in. Good students’ work lost to terrible storms, nights spent in tents with loud rain, that time Agnes lost a welly. Too much for some, thought Aaron, but I’m stronger than that. He reaches the top of the incline soaking wet and panting as he hauls out his binoculars to glimpse a singular flash of lightning brightening the horizon. It’s going to be a long afternoon.
You couldn’t quite play tennis. You couldn’t quite get the hang of squash either. But you wanted to so desperately to be part of a team in some way and that sports stash is just so cool, you couldn’t handle missing out. So you joined badminton, the only place where your lack of coordination and your complete disregard for team sports and going out more than once a week.
Let’s all tell everyone how much we all love water polo, even though we’d never heard of it before we came to uni. No, it doesn’t involve sticks, just us guys splashing around, mixing sexes all over the place. Did we tell you about the time we put James’ toothbrush in our bums? We did? Just wanted to make sure you know Water Polo has fun too. We have socials sometimes, where we get with each other. And tour. Water polo.
Barbells, truck tyres, sandbags – you can lift everything but the mood of a conversation. It’s probably because the only things you care about are your training regime, your bulging biceps or the fact that no-one loved you as a child.
They way you fascinate over efficiency and power is a little unnerving. You refer to your teammates as “the stallion” and “quad city” and love a good ride in the middle of the peloton. A continual stream of muscle in motion. It’s all a bit too Bateman. Your cleats seal the deal, not to mention the padded bib shorts one of your bros got you for secret santa. The only thing your crown jewels will be slapping on now is his chin once you’re done at the velodrome.
You wish that target was a human, don’t you? A warm, fleshy human. Maybe Greg who used to taunt you in school. You could carve your own bow and, when the kill is done, wear his skin like a suit. You’re salivating just thinking about it.
You throw the best socials, are generally the coolest people on campus and have the best stash. Sometimes you have a branded Land Rover. So why is Snowsports the worst sports team at uni? Embezzlement. The lax university regulations and accounting team have meant your crimes have gone unnoticed, but when you graduate you won’t be able to stop. Say hi to Madhoff for me.
Seven pints in, it takes every last inch of focus for Michael to keep his eye trained on the white ball in the foreground of his vision. Holding the cue in what he desperately hopes looks like a normal grip, he takes one last look at the yellow ball ahead of him on the green felt. Behind him, he can feel the presence of his team-mate Steve, the eyes boring into the back of Michael’s skull begging him not to fuck this up. Holding his breath, Michael plays his shot.
The yellow needs only the slightest caress on it’s far-right edge to nudge it towards the pocket and save Michael and Steve from complete humiliation. At first the white looks on course but as it rolls, anxiety levels rise. Agonisingly, the white bounces off the edge of the table and back towards Michael having failed to kiss the yellow at all. Michael sinks. He knows the game is lost. He looks up across the table.
Angus is grinning smugly. With ease, he pots the black and the humiliation is complete. As Michael looks over the table at Angus and his bros, all laughing at how easily they won, Steve places a hand on his shoulder. “Come on mate, let’s get a drink and forget about them. The Snooker and Pool Club are always cunts.”
Nothing more fun than a bunch of ripped guys in tiny Speedos splashing about, eh? We’ll all tell our girlfriends about this when we get home later. Let’s all shower first though.
If you can afford to play polo at uni, what on earth do you need a degree for? When it isn’t those precious 15 minutes that you actually pay for the privilege of playing, it is a jolly good time to catch up with fellow wealthy poshos and compare signet rings. It really helps you when you’re missing your beloved horse, too.
How old are you? 12? If you haven’t made it big in this yet then you’re no better than Tristan, year four, falling flat on his arse in the egg-and-spoon race.
Great rig now, though.
You’re 5’7”, your name is Milo and you’re from Orpington. Basketball isn’t for you.
You were consigned to the bench for the rugby third team at school so decided to try your luck at its boring, bastardised American cousin in Freshers’ Week. After a couple of training sessions you’ve bought all the kit, got the Tom Brady shirt and stay up til 5am in Walkabout with the lads to watch the Colts vs the Titans while pretending to know the rules and wondering why Lenny Kravitz keeps making pointless cameos.
Boxing is too mainstream and Aikido too playful. What kind of sick fuck enjoys eye gouging, fish hooking and groin striking? The uni probably has every member on some kind of watch list, and it’s for the best.
Clay Pigeon Shooting
Nothing says privilege like a good gun. Nice barrel Jonty, and I love the bead. The whole rib is fantastic. PULL.
People go into fencing thinking it’s going to be as tense and high-stakes as that scene in Die Another Day. They’ll bound into their taster session thinking they’re Nathan Drake, but after being taught enough about angulation, repechage and earthing of piste they’ll be just as insipidly dull as the sport itself.
It’s tactical, they say. What that means is it’s just a pair of chess club rejects prodding each other with knitting needles.
Very little physical activity combined with a huge manipulation of landscape results in an excuse for players to pretend they’re involved in a club when really all they want is to be outside long enough to constitute having a few glasses of Orosecco afterwards.
At least you get a nice walk.
No, it’s not a real sport. No matter how many games you win, how much time you spend bonding or how many vivid dreams you have about sharing a pitch with Viktor Krum, you’re still just a bunch of adults with brooms between their legs chasing a man in a yellow Morphsuit.
Stacey, Daisy-Leigh and Candice, you’ll NEVER guess what Nancy did last night? Yeah the rep from first year. I know right! What a bitch. Gimme a D right?! HAHAHAHA
Varsity is the greatest thing on earth, because when you win, clad in your fancy dress regalia, you will crowdsurf to the tune of One Step Beyond. Your night out will involve mankinis, drinking out of shoes and nightclubs with carpets.
Your morning after will involve bacon and a trip to the Doctor. Shouts of ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY from Dirty Mike and the boys in the crowd will ring in your ears for the rest of time.
Nobody wants to have their life saved by someone who has been on the “life saving team”. Firstly, they’ll never be better swimmers than an actual swimmer so rescue will be prolonged, awkward and uncomfortable.
The very fact there are life saving “competitions” proves this entire enterprise was made up to keep busy the people who are uniformly terrible at all sports yet too morally good to spend their time taking drugs and partying. Just think, out there somewhere at your uni there’s a kid with an inflated sense of self-worth because he once came third in a regional heat for rescuing a drowning man while wearing his old pyjamas.