Putt-ing On A Brave Face: What Does National Lockdown Mean For University sport?

After a second national lockdown, university sports societies struggle to find a way to adapt to their new restrictions.

(Image: Ben Davidson)

Prime minister Boris Johnson last week announced that the country will be going in to a second lockdown until 2 December. However, universities have been given the green light for certain aspects of studies including libraries and some face to face teaching going forth. But what does this mean for university sport?

All college and university sports had been prohibited from engaging in training sessions, matches, and socials. This has left controversy amongst many as non-contact sports such as badminton and golf claim to see no reason as to why their sport should be discontinued.

Many freshers and newly joined sports society members have taken to applying for a refund due to the high cost and low activity of their societies. However, little has been provided as reimbursement as many societies struggle to maintain financial stability amid COVID-19.

With the prospect of no sport or socials for a month, societies hit the town seeking one last VK before lockdown hits. Wednesday night saw dozens of societies flock into bars and pubs in the city centre. A good evening of service for local businesses in a midst of what is to be a harsh month for Britain’s economic stability.

Earlier this week I spoke with Ciaran Matthews, treasurer of the golf society and University First player. He gave us an insight on how they are planning on managing such restrictions and their intentions going forward past 2 December:

“The golf society understands the restrictions but we believe the approach taken is somewhat radical and unnecessary. Fulford (the golf course used by UoY golf society) has taken precautionary measures very seriously, as shown through our recruitment of a ‘track and trace officer’, and enforced social distancing on and off the course.

“Despite this, we will seek to engage our members with regular zoom calls and quizzes to preserve the societies social activities. We acknowledge and sympathise that the elderly are physically and emotionally vulnerable to the virus. However, golf has been for many a form of therapy. Allowing members to both socialise and exercise in a time where both are activities are limited.”

Golf society treasurer and first team player “Ciaran Matthews” gives his insight on the new restrictions and its impact on university golf.

“Aiding our members’ mental health is one of our top priorities during this time and we hope to cater for this with our newly appointed health and wellbeing officer. We empathise with our new members as 2020 has seen the highest turnover in golf members, pushing the golf team to potentially make a third team. Members who joined last year have been granted only a third of their yearly membership and whilst we share their frustration there’s no way we can compensate their desire to play golf.”

“We hope that come 2 December we will be able to go forward with our away matches against other universities but until then, all plans and trips for the club have been halted and we hope that the government and YUSU can take a pragmatic approach to reopening the sport.”

As societies take to Zoom meetings for formalities and online quizzes for leisure, presidents all across University of York societies are left scratching their heads as to where 2021 will leave their societies. Until then, university sport enthusiasts will have to settle with only elite sport being permitted to go on as professional football and rugby continues.

Over to you Boris…