The various sporting traditions across GUSA clubs can provide a strong social benefit. Here are a few examples that have really helped me feel included when participating in sporting clubs.
In addition to the values of fitness, skill and competition, the wide array of sporting clubs at the University of Glasgow pride themselves on the social opportunities they provide to their members. Traditions serve as a really important aspect of this social side to societies, and can differ depending on what sport you’re involved in. This year I will be going into my third year as a member of the University’s running club, Hares and Hounds. Across my involvement, I have experienced the wide variety of traditions within this specific sporting society and have learned to appreciate the real social benefit they provide.
Without a doubt the most iconic tradition within the running club is the appropriately named “smelly pints”. A few drinks at the nearest pub in your muddied, sweaty running attire turns out to be the perfect way to unwind and relax following the intensity of a race. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the contest in a more light-hearted setting and to get to know your fellow runners in a much more relaxed manner. Due to the aforementioned “smelly” nature of this post-race essential, the University Union does tend to be the “go-to” place for this club staple, being typically welcoming of a bespattered group of runners. It ensures race days are about much more than simply going for a personal-best time and serves as another opportunity to make friends and to make sure everyone gets some real enjoyment out of these events, no matter the outcome of the race.
Anyone new to a sporting club may be slightly surprised when a member of the relevant committee approaches them with a pallet of face paint. In getting in the mood for a race or a match though, there’s not many better approaches than showing off your club’s colours via the medium of your face. Getting ready for the whistle alongside your teammates, all showing off the same colour coordination can create a real sense of comradery and really encourages the team aspect of sport. I know when I took part in my first race with the running club, getting the same black and gold face paint as the rest of the team really helped replace those pre-race nerves with excitement and a sense of belonging.
A final tradition that is present among many societies is annual trips away. These are the events that you want to get in your calendar immediately upon announcement and make sure you’ve got a spot booked. This could be a week on the slopes with the ski club or a trip abroad to bask in the sun with the surf club. They typically provide an opportunity to hone your skills in a new environment and also spend loads of time socialising. Last year I took part in a weekend trip to Swansea for the yearly British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) cross-country race. The trip itself was a brilliant experience and the whole event sparked so much collectiveness and team spirit with the club. In the lead up to the race, everyone involved would attend lots of training sessions together and afterwards, there was a real sense of accomplishment among all those who competed. It turned out that the 8-hour bus commute just to get from Glasgow to Swansea was the perfect opportunity to make better friends within the club and the race’s after party provided the chance to meet like-minded runners from other universities. Yearly trips like BUCS creates an atmosphere of excitement within the club and can be a great opportunity to make friends.
Of course post-race drinks, face-paint and trips away merely scratches the surface of the variety of traditions sporting clubs hold. The activities mentioned are enjoyed across loads of societies, many of which will hold other unique traditions that members can get involved in. These traditions play an important role in promoting the social aspect of clubs and creating a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. Here’s hoping they live up to their namesake and continue to be enjoyed by all for many academic years to come.