The Impact Of Playing Sport On University Life

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With so many opportunities available, your time at university is a great opportunity to pick up a new sport or further the ones that you are already interested in. We asked students about the impact that taking up a sport at Southampton had on their university life.

26 students responded to a Wessex Scene poll which was conducted over the summer. The majority of those who responded were undergraduates (23.1 per cent were first years, 26.9 per cent were in their second year and 34.1 per cent were in their third year). The remainder of respondents were in their fourth year or above. All were involved in sport at Southampton to a greater or lesser extent, ranging from occasional visits to the gym to being on teams for sports as diverse as badminton, cheerleading and hockey.

Overall, students judged sport to have a positive impact on university studies. 50 per cent of those who responded
believed that sport enriched their degree and allowed them to perform better academically. A further 44 per cent were passive and believed that sport had no effect on their academic performance, while only 7.7 per cent believed that being involved with a sport has had a detrimental impact on their academic performance at university.

The impact of being involved with sport at Southampton on the social lives of those questioned was overwhelmingly positive. 92.3 per cent of those who answered the survey believed that playing a sport had ‘regularly improved’ their social life, while only 7.7 per cent believed that sport had not influenced their social life in either direction. None of the respondents believed that being involved with sport had negatively impacted their social life.

Out of the wide range of sporting facilities available at Southampton across halls and campuses, it would appear that main university-run gyms and sports centres are the most popular. 73.1 per cent of those surveyed said that they were most likely to use the Jubilee Sports Centre, which includes a pool and a large gym in addition to many other indoor facilities. The next most popular area was the outdoor sporting facilities at Wide Lane, which are used for the annual Varsity competition against Portsmouth and many team sports – 7.7 per cent of those questioned said that they were most likely to use the complex.

Encouragment for freshers to get involved with sport was also high. 88.5 per cent of those questioned said they would recommend that new arrivals take up some form of sport during their time at Southampton, and a further 11.5 per cent said they would at least recommend regular use of the gym facilities available to stay active and for health benefits.

Some also shared the benefits that being involved in sport at Southampton had given them. For one MSc student who found it hard to socialise, it had given them ‘a social life and a great way to de-stress’, while another respondent said it gave them something to focus on outside of their degree. Others hailed it as the best decision that they had ever made at university, both due to the health benefits and the people they had met through it.

Competing at a national or inter-university level, such as in the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) leagues also shows the issues that being deeply involved in sport as an extra-curricular activity can raise. While one respondent acknowledged that sport had benefited them both physically and socially, they also spoke of the difficulties in balancing the high effort required to compete for the university with their studies and their frustration at having to prioritise their degree over competitions which they do not receive credits for.

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Deputy Editor 2017-18, International Editor 2015-17. Languages student adjusting to being back in the UK after a year in Chile. Interested in Latin America, world news, media and politics.

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