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Playing College Sports: All You Need to Know

There is a wide range of college sports on offer at colleges all over the country, taking part in them is a great way to make friends while keeping fit and healthy in the process.

Opportunities to take up sports at college are plentiful and the US boasts some world-class sporting institutions. In fact, college is often the first stage on the career path of an elite athlete.

Read on to discover the benefits of playing sports at college and how to get involved.

Healthy body, healthy mind

A healthy body can lead to a healthy mind, helping you write essays without procrastinating. And the best way to achieve a healthy body is to take up a sport. Therefore, sports can help your academic performance.

Research published in the International Journal of the History of Sport found that juggling a sporting career with academic studies provides motivation for training and preparation, stimulating athletes intellectually and relieving stress.

But being active and playing sports at college won’t only have a positive impact academically; it will do wonders for your social life, too, because being part of a sports club at college will give you social skills and confidence.

Sports and social life

Sports teams and clubs at colleges often hold weekly social events where you can meet like-minded people and swap stories from the sports field. When you are part of team or club, you feel a sense of inclusion and belonging, which can really boost your self-esteem.

Once you join a sports club at college, you won’t look back. You will cherish the memories you create with your new teammates for the rest of your life. Plus, developing relationships with your teammates presents interesting networking opportunities. When you inevitably attend college reunions later in life, you will always have a good talking point to rekindle old friendships.

Employers like athletes

The skills gained from playing college sports—such as learning to focus, being part of a team and thinking on your feet—not only boost your academic performance but can also help you realise your career aspirations.

Employers look for people with the traits of an athlete: determination, drive and dedication—to name a few. For this reason, playing sports at college could help shape you into a more desirable candidate further down the line.

Always have the next step in mind. After all, you are only at college a limited length of time.

The variety of college sports

Most people imagine a roaring crowd at a football stadium when they picture college sports, but that’s only part of the story. College sports are diverse and cater for all ability levels, so don’t be put off!

Sports you can take up at college include bowling, golf, wrestling, tennis, swimming and even Frisbee. Each college is different, so be sure to check with yours, but all colleges are inclusive and encourage everyone to take part.

College sports: Key facts

Here are the main things you need to know about college sports:

  • Through various sports associations, colleges offer students the chance to compete at the varsity level
  • Some varsity athletes are eligible for sports scholarships
  • Varsity athletes must meet academic targets and requirements to retain their scholarships
  • Every student can take part in college sports—thanks to clubs and intramural leagues
  • All college athletes need strong time management skills to juggle classes and homework with practice and games

What is varsity?

In general, college varsity sports teams:

  • Represent their college
  • Play against teams from other colleges
  • Receive some funding from their athletic department

Sports associations

Several associations oversee varsity-level competition in various sports for men and women at different colleges. Among others, these include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The NCAA is the largest and most recognised college sports association. When you watch college sports on TV, you’re usually watching NCAA athletes.

Club and intramural sports

Students who don’t make the varsity teams at college, or those who don’t want the high-intensity of varsity-level, can join clubs and intramural leagues. As a result, millions of college students take part in these teams each year as a way to stay fit and have fun.

Club sports

Run by students, club teams compete against other club teams from different colleges. Students organise everything themselves from booking fixtures to arranging transport and getting uniforms. Teams can be involved in a regional conference and play for a national championship.

Intramural sports

The college sets up intramural leagues to give all students a chance to participate. Teams from the same college play each other.

The range of activities is diverse. You can take part in traditional sports, such as basketball, soccer and softball, but you can also try more unconventional sports like inner-tube water polo, dodgeball and video games.

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