Image: Wikimedia Commons / Ed Yourdon
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Ed Yourdon

A return to team sports after Covid-19

What’s this running thing that everybody at uni keeps talking about? And who is Joe Wicks? Unless you have been quite literally living under a rock for the past 14 months, you can probably answer both of these questions.

Most likely you, or someone in your immediate family, have tried one of these activities over lockdown. Be it rising from your slumber 30 minutes early to head out on a ‘couch-to-5k’ run or tuning in at 9am for a PE with Joe (hurriedly putting on a fluorescent top to make a half-pyjama, half-runner style), activities like these have helped everybody stay active and mentally decompress over lockdown. 

Personally, these have given me a chance to both share time with others and give myself some thinking time. Often, my Mum and I would tune in to PE with Joe as a chance to bond. In addition, running on my own over lockdown has been a welcome chance to get out of the house and unwind, process, and plan. 

However, as the months have ticked by, as students have gone back to school, and, alas, as PE with Joe has come to an end, it is a welcome sight to see clubs training together on campus once again, with students forging friendships through sport. 

We have seen the benefits that participating in sport can bring during the past year. Mental wellbeing improves through taking part in sport, with Sport England reporting that participating in sport raises happiness levels and lowers anxiety levels. 

Physically, participation lowers your risk of type 2 diabetes by 30-40%, as well as decreasing your risk of stroke, dementia, cancer, heart disease and depression. However, sport is also beneficial to you socially. 

I hope to see you out on campus sharing some stories with your team as well

Sport brings people of different backgrounds together towards a common goal. This could be on a football team, a badminton court, or a rowing boat. It unifies us in a way that few other activities do. Even individual sports such as swimming or running involve team training towards a common goal or aim, such as a BUCS competition.

Therefore, with the return of university sport this term, I encourage all of you to make it your mission to go to at least one sports club. This could be one that you have attended for a number of years, or it could be a completely new sport (quidditch anyone?). Whichever it is, when you meet with other athletes, you will have a chance to share how you are feeling with a group of people that you likely have not seen for over a year! 

While the pandemic has forced us to isolate, this is a chance to reconnect with a different group of people. For first-years, team sports allow you to meet students from different courses and form friendships across campus. For final-year students, team sports are a chance for you to unwind and forget about dissertations or exams coming up. And for those like me, well, it’s a daily chance to meet with friends and share some laughs and stories while we go for a run. 

For many of us, team sports also give us some much-needed security. They give us landmarks to plan our day around and give us something to work towards. I find it so much easier to finish a Politics reading in 30 minutes knowing that I have a run with my friends afterwards than sitting wondering what I will do tonight. As I have said above, they also give us a chance to take a break from our studies and share our experiences with others. Sharing is caring, as the saying goes, and there is no better time to do that than when playing sport.

So, as wonderful as it has been to do PE with Joe (and Mum), I am looking forward to sharing some time with my friends again out on the windy roads of Coventry while we chat about all that has happened over the last 14 months. I hope to see you out on campus sharing some stories with your team as well!

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