Cherwell sport debate: Blues or college sport?

Blues: Izzy Westbury – International cricket player

The day has come – finally. I thought it would never happen, but oh my goodness that time is now. The adrenaline rush as I got out of bed. That nauseating feeling as I stepped onto the pitch. The relief as they called out my name.

‘Izzy Westbury, your stash is here.’

Okay, so maybe the dishing out of Blues stash shouldn’t be the overriding factor that made me trial for the Blues, but it was a large factor nonetheless. Who wants a college football hoodie when you can swan around Park End in your OUHC ties and matching chinos? We are the elite, the only ones that can march around night clubs looking on the outside like Grandpa Joe stepping out of his air-raid shelter but knowing of course that ultimately, stash is what sets us apart.

But is it really all about stash – surely that is just for the vain and the superficial amongst us. Surely playing Blues sport is an honour, a legacy, a tradition and an achievement to be proud of? Well yes… and no. Playing Blues sport is the pinnacle of the Oxford sporting world and there is most certainly a status attached – but beware its limitations. No-one is here on the merit of their sporting achievements – Oxford doesn’t do such scholarships. We’re all here to work – sport is an extra-curricular activity playing second fiddle to our academic commitments. Or at least, that’s what our tutors wish. Unquestionably Oxford is no Loughborough, no Bath, no Exeter or Birmingham – but we’re pretty damned good considering and we shouldn’t forget that.

For the non-sporting students out there, there is the cry that playing Blues is nothing other than the chance to display our overly-testosterone fuelled aggression once a year as we embark on our infamous drinking bans and the chat focuses solely upon that favourite Blues pastime: bashing the Tabs.

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Now I’m all for playing college sport – I’ve done them all – mixed lacrosse, mixed hockey, football, squash, rounders – you name it, but no college match will ever amount to that one experience that makes it all worth it – beating Cambridge.

So Oxford and Cambridge are perhaps not the bastions of Britain’s sporting elite that we once were (there really is no use in kidding ourselves here, let’s be honest), but all other results get erased from living memory as all that matters is whether we get one more in their net than they do ours. This is the ultimate sporting achievement within the confines of Oxford. I wouldn’t give a million and one college cuppers victories for that one feeling of utter euphoria and knowing that, despite everything, we bashed the Tabs.

 

College: Ollie Waring – St Anne’s College 3rds Football captain

People say that you haven’t succeeded at Oxford if you don’t leave with a Blue to your name: those people clearly haven’t dedicated their pre-match warm ups to a live rendition of ‘Thriller’, epitomised Cuppers spirit by spending 45 minutes in goal wearing a mint green afro, or bonded over onion bhajis and ‘intellectual political debate’ at their termly team curry. I have one thing to thank for this – college sport. Oh, and not being a Blue.

College sport provides a welcome opportunity for everyone to get involved and try something new. Totally inept? Join the thirds and have a great laugh. High school legend? Recieve the adoration of your peers as you bang an a hat-trick in every game you play. Either way you’re openly invited to have a slice of the fun. And come back for seconds. Or even thirds.

On the other hand, Blues sport carries with it massive pressure, where a misplaced back pass or late tackle could destroy both your and the team’s credibility. In my team each pass is cheered with great aplomb, each sliced own goal lauded as much as if we’d netted the last minute winner driving us to Cuppers glory. College sport rewards students with a highly fulfilling vent from the stresses of Oxford life: Blues sport pumps a high pressure helium pipeline into already stressed-out Oxford lives. It is for over inflated egos, precariously waiting to explode.

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I agree that the quality of Blues sport is much higher, but it’s all relative really. Fair enough, the Blues would annhilate most college teams, but put a Blues team up against any semi-professional side and they’d get taken to the cleaners, hung out to dry and then targeted by passing pigeons. Besides, everyone knows that you get more 40 yard pearlers in the African Cup of Nations than you do when watching Spain grind out one-nils in order to obtain World Cup glory. The former certainly writes better match reports.

Blues sport does however offer its exclusivity – drinking Moet at Vinnie’s with other chino-clad super egos who consider themselves God’s gift to women and pretty much everything else. I’d take a drunken romp to the Park End Cheese Floor every time – the whole team to a man bellowing out ‘Football’s Coming Home’, celebrating the fact that they earlier denied the opposing goalie a clean sheet in a heroic 15-1 loss. You cannot buy that kind of spirit with talent alone.

So if you still aren’t convinced that the passion, joy and banter cultivated by college sport outweighs self important individuals vainly pretending to be the next sporting icon; search for ‘Halloween goal’ or ‘MGA football’ on YouTube. Debate over. I’d rather be a Mint Green than a Blue.