For the majority of UCL’s final year students, the thought of sport after university tends to be pushed to the back of the mind. Most soon-to-be graduates are instead desperately composing CVs and searching the web and newspapers for job openings. However, the Guardian claims that more than one in five young people are currently unemployed, so those with the time and money to continue their sporting endeavours might be considered the lucky ones. Let’s consider whether, at a time of economic recession, it is worthwhile to play on.
Even for those who have managed to land a full-time job and are financially settled, sport can still be considered as an unrealistic luxury. In general, sports clubs which compete on a Saturday will hold two evening training sessions per week. After a long day at work, a two-hour fitness session on a freezing December night probably does not conform to most people’s ideals. Playing sport at a competitive level is a big commitment and is perhaps only for the more dedicated.
Furthermore, sport is not a cheap industry. In order to play for a club or society, you are required to pay a subscription fee (without the student discount, of course). This is on top of the sum that you would have to spend on travelling expenses to the respective club two or three times per week. Needless to say, for workers based in London this can be quite a lot of money. Some may be lucky enough to receive travel expenses, or live next door to their club, but for the majority this can be a major stumbling block, especially whilst in a first job.
Finally, if you do manage to muster up the energy and finances to continue to play your preferred sport, you will, as always, run the risk of a bad injury. Such a setback could, aside from the obvious pain, put you off work for a significant amount of time. There are several injury insurance packages available for sportsmen and women but these are often expensive.
However, despite these difficulties, there are many benefits to playing sport whilst at work. A study commissioned by professional services recruitment and talent management consultancy, Hudson, and conducted by The Social Issues Research Centre in 2006, assessed the impact of sporting success and failure on the UK workplace. Information gathered from focus groups with employees and one-to-one interviews found the following:
63% of men and 52% of women said that sporting success has an impact on their approach to work.
47% of women and 40% of men said that sporting success lifts their mood and makes them more productive in their jobs.
A fifth of men said sport increases their motivation at work compared to 12% of women.
Only 3% said that sporting success is distracting and makes them less productive.
The study also concluded that attributes common to the sporting sector helped employees succeed in the workplace. For example, the value of working as a team; identifying and influencing what makes a good team player; the importance of commitment and dedication; the importance of collective responsibility; how talents can be developed and performance maximised; and the value of individual flair and creativity.
This is not to mention the obvious advantages to joining a club or society. The chance to meet new people, outside of work, who share a common interest is one that should not be neglected. And the sense of achievement that can be gained from sporting success, just as in any other walk of life, is a treasured one. Even if the only reason that graduates might have for joining a sports club after university is to keep fit, it is a lot cheaper to join one than a gym. Involvement in a sports club is also, as most would agree, a lot more stimulating.
So, whilst nobody would suggest that you should place the importance of sporting prowess above your career ambitions, especially at such a critical time, there is no reason to confine your sporting days to memory just yet. If you find the time in between endless career seminars and composing countless cover letters, you should research clubs and societies in and around your local area. Amateur organizations are always happy to welcome new members of all standardsand and, who knows, it might just help you in more ways than you thought possible.