By Eddie McAteer, Sports Editor
Sports socials can take lots of different forms: they often involve drinking, but they can simply be a meal out, an artsy craft session or a trip to the bowling alley. Whatever form they used to take, however, has likely been illegal for the past few months, so what exactly are we all missing so much?
There is something special about sports socials. To start with, they are the only time it is acceptable to find yourself in Gravity. Yes, this does mean I am shunning BED Mondays. There is, of course, more to them than stumbling across half your team in the teeming mass that is the smoking area.
Socials are an opportunity to bond with teammates and other society members who you might not usually get to talk to. As is often the case, people relax when they have had a pint or several, meaning that they finally get the courage to approach the serious looking fifth year medic. Incidentally, they also turn out to be a right laugh once they have had a bit to drink (probably).
Socials also allow you to create a stronger connection with teammates who you already know. Sure, you might be good friends with them at training, but do you know them outside of your sport? Socials are just the occasion to strengthen these friendships. Many a night out ends with teammates munching on takeaway together in someone else’s flat.
Even so, socials don’t always have to revolve around alcohol and clubbing. Who remembers when the whole club used to be able to rock up at a bang-average restaurant and still have an incredible time, alcohol or not? Who remembers when you could just go bowling as a team before seven became an unlucky number, at least for one person anyway? With so many restrictions in place, organising socials has been nigh-on impossible and mingling at these events has been severely reduced.
There’s also the thrill of fancy dress socials that we have all missed out on this year. Waiting in anticipation to see how your costume compares to the efforts of your teammates has unfortunately been consigned to better days.
Regardless of the circumstances, in-person socials allow people to feel like they truly belong to a team. There will undoubtedly be people this year feeling that the connection with their club could be a lot stronger, even if it can’t really be helped.
As we have all had to discover this year, virtual interaction is no replacement for the real thing. Let’s be honest, a Zoom social cannot hold a candle to a live, in-person social. This is not to criticise social secretaries one bit because they have done incredibly well with what they have. Yet, as good a job as they have done, they were faced with an impossible task that has only become more difficult as people get tired of technology.
The fatigue of an entire year of online learning and virtual quizzes has made the prospect of electronic socials a little unwelcoming. It has started to feel more like a chore than the highlight of the week.
Whilst sitting inside a pub with friends is still a distant hope, we can now return to beer gardens at last! With restrictions on numbers and households still in place, socials are unlikely to take on the same form as before, but at least it will be better than Zoom.
Featured Image: Alice Proctor
What have you missed about in-person socials?