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Last week I heard a very thought provoking statement from a passer-by on the spine. This person said, rather nonchalantly, that without the college system there would be no campus sport. Of course, the Union would still be affiliated with BUCS; but in terms of college-level sport, some would perceive that there would be no real sporting competition without the current collegiate system. This, I thought, was a given. But as I started to ponder more about what was said, it seemed to dawn on me that perhaps this statement was misplaced: is it in fact that without sport, there would be no college system?
Of course that is a slight exaggeration, the college system has many redeeming factors, too many to list in this article. There are many that love the college system for other factors, whether it be friendship groups of their college bars, for example. But, for those that might not have a strong affiliation to a college bar or fellow college members, there always seems to be one issue that brings about a genuine atmosphere of unison and pride: college sport.
The summer term is arguably the biggest stage for college loyalty and rivalry. The tenth anniversary of the Founder’s Series promises to be the most competitive yet, with alumni set to arrive in hoards. It is also a unique event because it attracts, at least for one brief weekend, attention from other college members, not just from Lonsdale or Bowland. It is also the fourth year of the Legends Shield which features Pendle, Fylde, Grizedale and County. Fylde, who have never lost the Shield, have been decidedly average thus far in the sporting calendar this year and will require as much support as possible if they are to retain the Shield. There is, of course, the stalwart of college sport too: the Carter Shield. After undergoing a review this year there have been significant improvements and it has arguably been the best Carter Shield league of recent years. With Pendle leading the chase in the league, the following pack of Bowland, Cartmel and Fylde will be looking to claw back some vital points.
Which brings me back to the original statement made: without the college system, would there be no sport? Well, yes, of course there would. But of course, too, there would not be the same amount of passion and commitment shown to a campus-based sporting cause. Without the voices of college support and fierce loyalty that sport brings, and without the turn-out of competitors and supporters alike, the college system would, I think, start to dwindle. Saying that; if inter-college sport remains as competitive and cut-throat as it has done this year, the college system will continue to thrive. To take part in inter-college sport is to support your college and by extension the college system. In turbulent times of extreme change in the University, we must not forget where our loyalties should always lie: with our college. Because it is not what you study at Lancaster University that is the most common question, it is of what college you have been raised in, and of what college you support.