It’s safe to say that most, if not all, Universities encourage and promote sport as a route to improving student well-being, health and social life whilst at University. Yet, at the same time sport can sometimes be overlooked as a vital aspect when developing a University. It can often be seen as a “this or that” scenario for Universities – do they want to be known as a sporting or academic University?
Why am I raising this topic now? Well I’ve come to the end of my time as captain of Lancaster Universities Men’s First Badminton Team. This past year has seen one of the largest changes for sport in the University’s history. The introduction of the ‘Sport Lancaster’ brand, the requirement for consistent memberships and commitments from team members and an increase in funding for focus sports. These changes were met by uncertainty and dislike from many – for me it was music to my ears!
University sport should be taken seriously, with a competitive nature and a desire to win. If you only want to play for fun, join the society. But please don’t get me wrong, being part of the badminton team has brought about some of my best and most enjoyable moments from my time at University, however that is a result of having the right people with the right attitude to sport.
I could ramble about how vital sport is at University for both students and the institution, so instead I’ll give talk about 3 key reasons – they might not be the 3 most important overall, but they are the three that are most applicable to me and other people I know at the moment.
1 – It’s an escape like no other
When your days are full of lectures and/or revision each day feels the same, the weekends merge into the weeks and before you know it the term is ending. The ‘bubble’ created at University makes it extremely easy to lose track of time. It doesn’t take long before you can’t concentrate, before you feel stressed about exams or you feel like you’ve lost your social life.
Sport is one of the best ways to break this up. An hour or two of team training gets you in a new environment, with different people and a different mind-set. It is crazy how good sport can be for ‘refreshing’ your mind. Whether you want to take out anger, relax or just do something you enjoy.
It can also help you keep track of time. If you know when your trainings are or when it’s your match day, you stay aware to what’s going on.
2 – It’s competitive
Let’s face it, University is a competition. Whether you’re competing against others for the highest grade, or against yourself to get the best result you can, you need to work to your best to ensure you perform at your best in exams.
It’s not easy to approach work with this competitive nature. However it parallels closely to the competitive nature of sport. Competing in sport builds up your attitude to train to your maximum, to rest well, eat properly and perform to your best. This is no different from working for your degree; you need to sleep properly, you need to eat right and you need to put the work in before the ‘big day’.
Sport will build this attitude in students and so if a University wants more ambitious and hardworking students, this is one way to promote it.
3 – Revision is boring!
I love sport a lot more than I like revision. If University was focused on revision and lectures only, I’d leave instantly. I don’t get excited to open up lecture slides or read a paper. Granted at times it is extremely interesting and I enjoy my subjects as a whole, however the individual parts are usually more painful than fun.
Sport makes it bearable – simple as that!
There are many students that will have similar views to these above, and many other points. Many students understand the value and importance of sport for them. Many people base their University choice on sport, and so if a University overlooks its importance, or puts it on the back seat, it will lose out on a lot of interest from prospective students and I also believe it will hold back a number of current students from reaching their full potential.