If you haven’t tried a college sport, have you really gone to Oxford? Well yes, last year’s academic stress and fatigue was enough to say been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Yet people commonly say that getting involved with college sports is the gateway to a good college experience. Like the nosey person I am, I had to see if it was true, and tried out college sports. More specifically, football last term. A term later, I would now say, it’s at least worth a try.
Maybe it’s best to give a little context. There’s not a sporty bone in my body. I watch lots, (some say too much) safe in the knowledge that I can’t catch a ball (or a break) or hit a beach ball with a mattress sized racquet, but I never was too keen on taking part. I peaked in Year 4 with my Essex County sliver in 600m and I hung up the boots then. Since then I’ve been savvy to avoid PE, with conveniently timed music lessons and so on. So back when I was a wide-eyed naive little fresher, you can only imagine my total joy and elation at hearing from almost anybody I spoke to, encouraging me to get involved with college sports. Curious by the high number and various types of people suggesting I do, I took the laborious first step of searching for and joining my college football group on facebook and never took it further than there. Maybe the occasional like of a post letting me know when the training was or telling myself that this term I was going to get involved.
Spoiler alert: I never did. But it’s not just my chronic laziness that prevented me from doing so. The more of first year that passed along, the more and more negative things I started to hear about college sports. Specifically the side that wasn’t to do with actual sport-ing. The crew dates that went too far, the socials that seemed terrifying. If my lack of sports acquiescence gave me cold feet, the social aspect of it had me turned off.
But when I found myself wheezing a bit too much after walking up one of the numerous flights of college stairs, I decided enough was enough. It was time for me to become a (barely) sporty person. Netball required too much coordination and rugby straight up terrified me, so off to football I went.
And after a term of going, I can say I was definitely not the best at it. But I definitely did try. What I really enjoyed (and did not expect to happen) was meeting the people like me who were also trying something new, and were okay with getting things wrong. The first time I showed up to any practice I was dragging my feet, but once I had gone to one session I started really enjoying it. By the end of term, I was genuinely looking forward to playing. I can’t speak for all colleges or all sports, but I can vouch for my college: it really is worth trying out. All the girls I played with were really nice and supportive, not like the netball girlies (omg netball girlies please don’t take me seriously). This seems to be a general trend from people I spoke to outside of colleges too, not just mine. Even if you are terrible, you can still have a great time taking part. I’ve concluded that horrible people don’t get involved in college sports.
While the social element seemed a bit intimidating given that it’s not really my scene, it shouldn’t put you off playing. They aren’t going to bind you by your arms and legs and drag you to Jamal’s. If you’re not an extrovert or you don’t really go out much, maybe you might know the names of the people you play with a bit better if you do go out. But from my term I would say that I still enjoyed myself playing, despite the fact that the day I’m sighted at a crew date is the day Phil Mitchell grows some luscious locks.
That being said, in the interest of being fair here are some of the genuine negatives.
It really isn’t easy to be good, especially at football. I want to believe that one day I’ll play and my skill will spontaneously appear. But no. Sometimes the ball goes really far away and I internally scream “oh naur!” because I know I have to run after it. Despite all of this, running is still one of the top ten worst things you could put a human through in my personal opinion. Not to mention the awful soreness that comes from my rusty bones after running about for a bit.
But if anything, I hope that I showed it is, believe it or not, worth it. I’ll go again this term with the hope that the pain of exercise can distract me from the miserable months of hillary. But in all seriousness, if you were on the fence, or have been considering it and thought it was too late to try, it really is never too late and it is always worth it to try a college sport. You don’t have to do football, most colleges do rugby and frisbee- last year I went to watch ice hockey cuppers. And after discovering the university has a team for the totally made-up sport “Eton Fives”, anything is possible. it’s worth having a look at what else you could try.
As for me, provided I don’t score an own goal next term, I’ll consider myself proud! As someone who avoided sports in first year like the plague and still gets the shivers when someone says the word PE, trust me, anyone can try.