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No Experience? No Problem

Sports for Beginners

By Brian Chase

Welcome, freshmen, to Orientation. In the coming weeks dozens of groups, including sports, will solicit your participation. Those of you who participated in sports in high school may join the same varsity sports at MIT; you, however, are not my primary audience. I’m speaking to those students who never considered playing sports. My message is simple: even if you never considered joining a sport team before, you can still join one now, as you begin your college career.

Okay, you mutter, but if I join a sport that looks interesting, I’m already at a disadvantage, aren’t I? Not so. Teams at MIT made of participants new to the sport have performed well, even on a national level.

The Pistol team won nationals last year with a team of eight students, seven of whom had never picked up a gun before they came to MIT. The women’s fencing squad was also hugely successful last year with athletes who started fencing as freshmen. And in MIT Sport Tae Kwon Do, novices who have been learning for less than a year regularly take home medals from the national competition, against people with a similar level of experience.

Over the next three days, The Tech Sports section will profile the Tae Kwon Do, Pistol, and Fencing teams, which regularly succeed at national level competition with athletes who entered the sport at MIT. These teams prove prior experience in a sport is not a requirement to be competitive and successful at a collegiate level. The enjoyment of competition and achievement becomes one more reason why joining a sport at MIT can benefit you.

Some other reasons why joining a sport at MIT is a good idea for anyone:

We have sports, like shooting sports, water sports, and martial arts, that you may never have been exposed to back home. As someone from the Midwest, I never had the chance to go rowing or sailing, even recreationally. MIT has more different sporting opportunities than any college except Harvard. Why not try one out?

A sports team functions as a great social outlet. Finding a group of friends to share problems and experiences with is crucial at MIT, and any sport or club you join will only help you do that.

Sports keep you mentally healthy. MIT is a pressure cooker, and everyone needs to let off steam. From swimming to running to shooting to lifting, physical activities provide impacting, visceral, and cathartic ways to release stress from a bad week at school or a blown test.

Sports keep you physically healthy, and it’s a great advantage to have the energy to pull late-night study sessions.

PE credit is a requirement, and playing a sport is a good way to complete it.

In addition to Pistol or Tae Kwon Do, many other sports at MIT accept new students, including the Crew team (rowing for those from land-locked areas) and many of the martial arts, such as Kendo.

If you just want to participate recreationally, club level and intramural sports can be lots of fun. MIT has more different sports available than any college except Harvard, so anyone can find the sport they like most. The point remains: It’s never too late to join a sport, especially here at MIT.