It is 4:40 pm and I haven’t got as much work done as I’d hoped today. Why? A Marble Olympics YouTube hole, mental and emotional fatigue… TikTok? It doesn’t really matter. I log out of my hard-earned library computer and begin to pack up. Another student has noticed me stir and now hovers near my desk like a vulture over prey, ready to settle in for the night shift. As I leave the library and begin to make my way to the union, I am relieved yet fearful thinking of the work I have left behind, envisaging the last-minute all-nighters that lie ahead.
Monday night training is kind of awful. You sit in rush hour traffic for over an hour, only to be dropped in Harlington, where it is always a few degrees colder and a few more degrees bleaker. The bus back sees you home by 10 pm if you’re lucky, though for the later session it is closer to midnight. Sports clubs are also expensive to be a part of, and the prospect of paying this expense on top of £9k per year, only to limit the time you have to make the most of the £9k investment seems hard to justify. Yes, you’ll land your dream job in consulting and make up for it eventually, but was it because you put ‘member of the hockey club’ under the Other Interests section of your CV? Probably not.
So why bother?
Playing sport at Imperial makes little sense, which is why you should do it. Spending 20+ hours a week attending training, socials, and matches with a group of people, some of whom you may not even like, and doing stuff that definitely does not improve your academic prospects are important. Simply, it makes you feel good. Some of the people you play with may become great friends, or remain acquaintances, but the comfort is found in the fact that it doesn’t really matter. Either way, joining a society guarantees people to check up on you in an often highly pressurised and sometimes isolating environment.
That is not to say that societies themselves cannot be a source of this. In teams the group mentality can be insidious, and a conscious effort must be made to have peer pressure take people to Harlington for five hours on a grim Sunday without leaving them uncomfortable or unhappy at 7 pm on a Wednesday.
It is important that we as individuals carefully consider the way we think and behave, and in return people on the outside should be optimistic and proactive and consider joining.