Sport. What is it Good For?

Let me set the scene. It is 8am on a Saturday. You have organised a kickabout with some friends which, during the epiphanic glee of your drunkenness, had seemed like a good idea the night before. Anyway, you had not done any sport for a while and you thought it may be fun. But in the haze of regret and sadness enmeshed in a horrible thing we have come to call ‘the morning’, you think it a much better idea to just sink back into the pocket of comfort that is your covers and dream of something nicer, something impossibly heart-warming, like affordable accommodation fees. In the paraphrased words of Edwin Starr (or more contemporarily Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker): Sport, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, some may say on a dreary, rainy Saturday morning.

Naturally, I can see the seductive appeal held by the warmth and security of those extra five minutes – and no longer – of lie-in (which, as we all know, is lying), but I must contest this. I will not bore you with the health benefits of sport. We have all heard about them, like a litany, over and over, and we barely listen. Health is good, sure. Toned abs? Lovely, yet a distant pipe dream for most of us. But there is something far better, and far more beneficial that sports have to offer. Two words: sports socials.

Ah yes, the one thing more important than a healthy cardiovascular system: somewhere to be on a Friday night. Provided you can survive the initiation procedures, you are welcomed into a world of social excellence and binge drinking like no other. But as with most things that seem too good to be true, however, there is a catch. From the dastardly mind of the devil himself, the cost of such frivolous hedonism is something simple yet terrifying: actually doing sports training. If you are lucky, you will have it arranged for Wednesday afternoons and, most importantly, you will not belong to that select group known as ‘elite athletes’. If you are, get ready for early starts and the chilling early morning Durham temperatures.

So, given the multitude of benefits – is there an excuse now? Laziness? Tiredness? General distaste for the concept of movement? Considering the array of different sports to choose from, you could go for something more your speed. There is a sport for all levels of exercise – from intensive to inactive.

Take darts or pool for example. Both can meet the minimum requirements for a sport without actually involving physical exertion. I mean, it is rare to find a ‘sport’ which involves throwing something with one hand and holding a pint of beer in the other. Welcome to the surprisingly entertaining world of bar sports. Or you could go down the golf route, the only sport which can be a walk in the park both figuratively and literally. If you want to take out the walking aspect and just stand around for a few hours, try cricket. The point is, you do not need to intensively exercise to get involved in sports.

But, if your maintenance loan has run dry and you cannot afford to down a couple of good-faith pints every time you do your sport, there’s much more to do. You could try football, the only sport in the world where you can burn more calories defending your chosen team in an argument than by playing. Football can also provide a lot of laughs. Whether you are contemplating whether it really is ‘our year’ for the dejected Liverpool fan in the corner or watching Fulham’s futile attempts to keep a clean sheet, or even listening to a Spurs fan defend their transfer policy (or lack thereof), an active following of the ‘beautiful game’ is barrels of fun. Playing it is also fun, but it does not allow you to feel as self-righteous and clever as when you predict the scores on television.

Sports can also be good for your mental health. Feeling down and in need of a hug? Find a rugby team and join the scrum. Hoping to channel your inner Quasimodo? Play some hockey. For an endless stream of fun, join the rowing club. Become the truest of aim doing archery, and Robin-Hood some maintenance loan back for the Durham students. Jump to new heights on the basketball team. You can even try some tennis if you want, the ball is in your court!

Now is the time to get involved. As the best sports university in the country, Durham provides the best opportunities and facilities to try new things and neglect your studies. Why work on that essay when you can do better things? Think about it.

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