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Tour: 'The Essential Life Experience'

23rd May 2011

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Sport, sun, and sex. Booze, beach, and bonding. Saloufest and Lloretfest are two of the biggest University sports festivals available to British and Irish students. Thousands of students travel every year to ‘rampage through Spanish seaside resorts during these drunken festivals.’ 

 The Mail Online published this quote during this year’s tour to Salou. This article, alongside numerous others over the last few years, criticises and condemns students’ behaviour, homing in on ‘their heavy drinking and sexual exploits’. But should parents really lose sleep over their children’s sports holiday? Or is the media just sensationalising these events, providing a one-sided account? 

Lloretfest advertises the week as ‘the time of your life’, and, for the most part, from a student experience, this seems to be an accurate description. Caroline Hughes, a first year English student described her tour as ‘an excellent opportunity to really bond with the rest of your team mates, play some laid back sport, and have a really fun and cheap holiday.’ 

Although parents and the newspapers would disagree, Saloufest advertises the week as ‘The Essential Life Experience’. Daisy Smith, a third year Sport Studies student has been on three tours and said, ‘Tour just keeps getting better and better, every year someone comes out of their shell with some great banter, it is one week that cannot be missed.’ 

I Love Tour, the organisation which runs each year’s tour to Salou has gained an excellent reputation for safety. Although, Iain Hollingshead, a reporter from the Telegraph who visited Salou, criticised many aspects of tour, he did acknowledge that ‘there have been no arrests all week,’ and, ‘there hasn’t been a single bit of aggression all night.’ 

Why then, is there so much negative publicity, especially towards Salou? 

The answer, it seems, is that not everyone’s experience of tour provides the fun, sport-filled week in the sun that so many others have enjoyed. 

A second year swimmer at Southampton University said, ‘the horrors of tour began before we even arrived. We were on a coach for 26 hours with some rugby boys from a different University. They were throwing up and urinating on the coach, and generally harassing our team. Nevertheless, when we arrived, we had the best week ever, but I would definitely recommend flying instead of taking a coach!’ 

A first year at Leeds Metropolitan University described tour as, ‘an excuse for older members of the team to pressure freshers into doing things they don’t want to do. They’re often blackmailed with alcohol fines, or worse punishments, it’s almost seen as accepted bullying.’ 

It is apparent, therefore, that everyone’s experience of tour is different. Whilst the vast majority consider tour to be one of the best weeks of their lives, just like every holiday, there are some disaster stories. Although the binge drinking, sex scandals, and inappropriate behaviour can’t be denied as a part of tour, this does not differ from the stigma attached to the typical university lifestyle. So, whilst some would argue that ‘tour’ has overstepped the limit, others claim that the fun and enjoyment of tour heavily outweigh the negatives, so what’s all the fuss?

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