The benefits of intramural sports

(Photo: Victoria Lai, Los Angeles ’18)

Preparation, proper form and good hand skills – we must be talking about dentistry, right? Well, not quite: we’re talking about sports!

Sports and dentistry have more in common than you might think. If you’ve ever played high school or collegiate sports, you know that success on the field begins before the game even starts, with late-night practices, team huddles, proper coaching and, of course, hard work. Similarly, as dental students, we know all too well how pre-clinical practice and adequate preparation before appointments are crucial components to being successful in clinic. In the same way that proper form at the free-throw line can help you score that game-winning point, practicing good ergonomics can help us maximize the longevity of our professional careers. The steady hands you need during the axial reduction of an FGC prep on #3 are the same hands needed to catch the football on that deep route behind the secondary.

Beyond the many parallels we can draw between the two fields, sports and other forms of physical activity can also help us maintain a healthy balance between our personal and professional obligations. It’s easy to become consumed by our academic commitments, meaning that it’s more important now than ever for us to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health. What better way to do this than spend a few hours a week playing sports with your classmates?

As first-years, my classmates and I tried our hand at Intramural Flag Football and I’ll be honest: things got pretty ugly.  Despite the fact that we didn’t win a single game all year, our camaraderie on the field encouraged us to continue playing as second years. Excited and hungry to prove ourselves, we made time over the holidays to practice and even wrote our own playbook. Our hard work paid off: we found ourselves making our way past teams from the School of Law, School of Engineering, School of Public Affairs, and even the first-year team from our School of Dentistry. And, after a nail-biting championship game and the successful execution of the Bennett Movement, we ended the season undefeated. Victory had never tasted so sweet.

Through intramural sports, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my classmates in a different context, outside of the walls of our pre-clinical sim lab. We’ve bonded on the field through the ups and downs of competition, and I’m proud to say that our friendships are better for it. Even the classmates who don’t play can come out to the games to support their fellow student athletes, offering a great way for students of all fitness levels to bond and enjoy each other’s company in a new environment.

Does your school have an Intramural Sports program that you and your classmates can get involved in? If so, I highly encourage you to take advantage of it. If you’re interested but there are no programs in place, consider coordinating with your graduate student government to get something started. You’ll be surprised by how many classmates may be interested.

You know what to do. Now get out there and play!

~ Jason Gong, Los Angeles ’18

Jason Gong

Jason is a third-year dental student at the UCLA School of Dentistry. He has served on his class cabinet as the Intramural Sports Chair Representative for the past three years. When he’s not practicing his hand skills in lab, he’s refining them playing video games. Or sleeping.

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