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You may think you know your way around a pool table; have graced the oche every now and then or even played dominoes with your grandparents, but until you get involved with bar sports at Lancaster you might not realise how far simple pub games can take you.
Here at Lancaster, inter-college sport is integral to the collegiate system and helps to build college pride and identity. You’ll more than likely not hear the fresher’s week chants again for the rest of the year but the rivalries that they are based on will still rumble on. This is evident across all inter-college sport, but none more so than in bar sports.
Before coming here you may have just seen darts and pool as ways to pass time in the pub and you’re not far wrong; socialising and relaxing in the college bars are some of the best ways to quickly settle into university life. One thing you’ll quickly realise though is that for many students: pool, darts and dominoes are far more than just pub games. These three sports, and I use the term loosely, are some of the most hotly contested on campus, with college rivalries spurring on the intensity.
Despite playing pool from week one, I never truly understood this competitiveness until the end of my first year during the three inter-college summer sports tournaments; Founders, Patriots and Legends. Like most freshers with even a slight interest in bar sports, I didn’t realise these sports could mean so much to the players until I went down to watch the darts at Founders. You’ll be hard pressed to find a more competitive and better supported activity on campus than the men’s darts at this event. The atmosphere is electric each and every year, with a helping of banter and controversy thrown in for good measure! It is a similar case with Legends and Patriots too, all highlighting the fact that for many students, bar sports is at the centre of college rivalries.
Despite being fiercely contested, bar sports are inherently social and a great way to see the whole of campus and make friends from other colleges. The one down side to a collegiate system for Fresher’s Week is that you often find yourself only socialising with the people in your flat or down at the nearest bar in a college clique. There’s nothing wrong with this as you’ll quickly make friends for life, but every now and then it’s good to see how the other half lives. By getting involved with bar sports, similarly to all campus sport, you get to meet like minded people from other colleges that you wouldn’t normally come across.
If you grow to like the bar sports atmosphere and discover you’re good at pool or darts then there’s plenty of opportunities to take it further than just inter-college level. There is a common misconception that bar sports are not taken as seriously at a university level but this is far from the case as its popularity grows year on year. Lancaster regularly takes a dominant men’s darts team to the University Cup, and the pool teams take part in BUCS. Added to this the men’s and women’s darts and pool teams prepare rigorously for Roses with the aim of sending York away with their tails between their legs. So if you’re passionate about the Red Rose, there are plenty of opportunities to take darts and pool further than just campus. Sadly dominoes haven’t quite taken off as much!
The competitive nature, mixed with new friendships and the ever important drinks from the bar, make bar sports nights the highlight of the sporting week for those involved. I would urge anyone, whatever your experience or ability, to head down to your college bar and have a go on the dart board, pool tables, or just talk to the people who are. Before you know it you’ll be off on socials or even pulling on the bar sports top, ready to represent your college.