University sports societies seem to get a bad press. Headlines are too often dominated by problems with initiations, inappropriate socials or individual idiotic behaviour – while these are all unquestionably important issues to address, the positive impact that sports societies can have shouldn’t be forgotten. I was a member of the lacrosse team for the entirety of my time at uni and looking back, especially to first year, I would have been lost without it. I see it as my responsibility now to encourage as many people as possible to give sports societies a go, here are my top 5 reasons:
1) Meet new people
It is healthy to meet people at uni outside of your immediate course and housing circles. This is easier said than done – except from when you join a sports society! When you arrive at a give it a go session, or even to training, you are immediately mixed with others in a similar situation to you. This is the case whatever year of study you are in; I know people who joined societies in their final years and absolutely loved it, it’s never too late to meet new people. It can also be really helpful to make friends with people in different years. Things like module choices, years abroad and housing decisions all become much easier when you can get advice from people who have been there.
2) Get some structure
Starting university usually comes with an increased responsibility to organise what you do with your time. This is the case whether you are going for the first time or returning from holiday, at first this freedom is amazing but it is easy to get overwhelmed. It is very important for your mental health to have some sort of structure in your life, your brain has been trained to rely on this your whole life! Being in a sports society means you will have to do regular trainings and you will have to be free on a Wednesday. This may not sound like much structure, but it can be really useful in forcing you to organise your time. It can also be the base that the rest of your week works around, leading to more structure in different parts of university life too.
3) Keep fit
It must be emphasized that joining a sports society will not automatically keep you fit, unfortunately paying that £50 membership will not turn you into an Olympic athlete overnight. HOWEVER, it does give you the opportunity to do exercise in a more fun and social environment, depending on what sport you play there might even be some organised fitness sessions… It can also give you a reason to stay fit – if you’re like me and need some serious motivation to go on a run or do a gym class, raising your performance on game day can be the perfect target. Just going to training can give you a good base level of fitness to work off, forcing you to dust off the cobwebs at least once a week.
4) Boost your CV
It’s always good to think about your CV, it may sound crazy to say but one day you will have to leave uni and for some reason the government want you to pay back the money they lent you. Joining a sports team not only lets you display your value as a team player and a leader but gives you opportunities to churn out buzzwords in CVs, cover letters, applications and interviews. All of these processes require you display certain competencies and there are only so many times you can mention your Duke of Edinburgh award or similar achievement. The best content comes if you manage to secure a position on the committee, this is good motivation to get involved with the organisation and forward planning of your society.
5) It’s Fun
It may be stating the obvious but joining a sports society (from my experience anyway) is good fun! There are so many different sports on offer at uni and you don’t have to be any good – I had never even played men’s lacrosse when I turned up to my first training session. From my experience you definitely do not have to be a sporty person to join, some of my friends barely picked up a stick over the three years. Because there are so many different sports societies on offer at uni there will inevitably be one which suits you, both in terms of performance and social.
Overall, joining a sports society was the best decision I made at uni. It gave me structure, made me friends, boosted my CV, kept me fit and I had a bit of fun along the way. My advice would be to go to that trial session or beginners lesson – it will be nerve-wracking at first but what’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t enjoy the sport or the culture you don’t have to go again, try another society! There are hundreds of societies out there which don’t even have anything to do with sport and aside from keeping fit, these arguments apply for all of them too.
Director, Thrive & Survive