The infamous ‘Fresher’s Fun’ is a social event not to be missed. Many are told it’s an integral part of being accepted into a sporting society, a chance to ‘prove yourself’ to your team members. I’ll be the first to admit that when this event came around, a large part of me was filled with dread. This wasn’t eased by the horror stories of so-called ‘initiations’ at other universities. But, I’m glad I went and what’s more, went hard. My fellow freshers and I have developed a sense of solidarity, a bond that can only be formed through parading around York in a swimming costume and snorkel, completing absurd challenges and consuming even more absurd types and amounts of alcohol. I would be the last person to say that Wednesday night sports team socials are a reserved or sober affair.
Admittedly, on most socials there have been a handful of street wise students who, although not completely sober, are watching out for the biggest liabilities. After all, there’s a difference between smashed and not sober; can’t everyone find a happy medium? Even at ‘Fresher’s Fun’, glasses of water were frequently thrust into our faces. So, what difference would a Sober Rep make?
It’s a not a bad idea. In every society, there are those who don’t drink and it would be nice if they were represented. It may even demonstrate to the rest of the society that you don’t need alcohol to have a good time when out with your team. My flatmate is tee-total and still knows how to have fun on a night out, even braving Willow. What’s more, this hero will dutifully trek though the rain in the quest to find that mobile phone you may or may not have drunkenly left in some club toilet.
At the end of the day however, one Sober Rep can’t serve as a baby-sitter to an entire club. It’s unfair to expect so much of someone amidst the chaos of a night out. Moreover, it may encourage the rest of the club to drink even more, under the false pretence that they can palm off their responsibility.
According to Emma Hersey, YUSU disability officer, the whole idea of a Sober Rep is to “broaden access to the social side of sport”. But there is more to a sport club’s social life than Ziggy’s. There are lunches at the Courtyard, Christmas meals, matches, and endless training sessions over which to bond as a team. At ‘Fresher’s Fun’ we were subjected to choruses of “down it fresher!” But other than that, I have never felt pressured to drink alcohol, and rightly so. Moreover, “down it fresher!” is something we’ve been hearing since fresher’s week from the supposedly responsible STYCs.
Is it really fair to target sports clubs explicitly? Personally, if the idea of a Sober Rep is to be taken seriously, then it should be extended throughout the University and not simply applied to sport clubs. It’s unfair for one branch of the many societies here to be tarred with the same drunk and disorderly brush.