Give Sport a Chance

After Isaac trashed sports night Freddie McNicholas pens a passionate defence of sport.

As we all know, the old idea that work comes first is definitely in effect here at UCL. But for a lot of the population of Gower Street, one big part of uni life is found outside the lecture room.

Sports societies and teams are some of the biggest and most popular organisations on campus, and people’s willingness to go and spend several hours on Wednesday afternoons and weekends is a testament to how enjoyable it can be. As a keen sportsman all through school and now at university, there are a number of reasons why sport is here to stay.

First off, health benefits. While this may be surprising to some people, playing sport is good for you. Given plenty of students not only don’t exactly eat what most people would call healthy and then also drink to excess, sport helps to keep the weight off and make sure that the stresses of uni life don’t add up into inches on the waist. Case in point: Having had a ‘relaxed’ year for sport in my first year, I promptly put on six kilograms of definitely unhealthy weight by the summer.

Not ideal clearly. While it is true that some sports are definitely more physically intensive than others and that the amount of training varies from club to club, even four to five hours a week of basic running around and exercising helps to maintain a decent level of fitness and health. If you’re going to maintain that perfect beach body, there’s no better way than organised sport.

Second is the competition. I’m not going to go ahead and claim that sport is the only outlet for a competitive streak. Debating, card games and lads of other societies all provide a way to prove once and for all your superiority. But for some there is nothing better than physically testing yourself man against man, woman against woman, mixed teams against mixed teams.

Playing and competing against athletes from other universities and being able to prove to them the dominance of UCL sports teams is a great feeling. Playing and competing in sports is fun for a lot of people, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it. That moment when you’ve clinched victory against RUMS or Kings, with you and your teammates having worked and played hard to achieve it is honestly one of the more satisfying feelings that very few other things match.

Now there will be some people who will say that’s great for those lucky few gifted athletes, but what about those who aren’t necessarily the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Michael Phelps? Don’t be discouraged. I honestly believe that there is a sport to suit everyone, just that some take longer than others to find out what it is.

Given the absolutely massive array of sports that both UCL and ULU offer, university is a good a time as any to find out which is the one for you. And for those worried about not making a team, given that most clubs are able to easily put out multiple squads it is fairly safe to say that all levels of ability are catered for.

Finally, the social side. Now I’m not going to go too much into the actual nights out and drinking aspect of it, as not only has it been done to death somewhat recently but also that I very much doubt whatever I write is going to change the minds of those who don’t like it.

Needless to say, personally I think nights out, stupid themes and the Roxy are great but they are optional. Most sports clubs tend to hold plenty of socials where drinking is not an aspect, and team bonding can be done in different way which don’t involve dubious nightclubs at one in the morning.

For me, the best part of sport socially is actually the day to day interaction when training and hanging around. For those of us who do a subject with few contact hours, spending all day in the library with your head in a book or killing even more time at home in your room watching endless bad TV can become tedious, surprisingly.

I’d much rather spend a couple of hours a day training or just chilling out with team members and having a laugh while doing so. The friendships forged through sport can be some of the most fulfilling and fun.

So to those who are doubters, I’m sure my article will do little to change your minds. But at least I hope it’ll understand why we continue to do what we relish.