I think we usually say "I am going to join the basketball club."

Is it all right to say "I am going to enter the basketball club."?

I know that enter can mean "to start to take part in a particular activity or to work in a particular job," but I'm not sure that I'm using it correctly here.

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    @NathanTuggy Just because it's synonymous doesn't mean it's idiomatic... I would never choose to make this substitution as a native AmE English speaker. – Catija May 19 '15 at 1:57
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    "Enter" here sounds like you're walking into a building. – cpast May 19 '15 at 2:10
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    @NathanTuggy It is idiomatic in some cases "I'm going to enter the Marine Corps"... I would never use it for something like a basketball club. – Catija May 19 '15 at 2:15
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    I think this question deserves to stay open. However, questions like this are less likely to get close votes and more likely to get upvotes if the O.P. at least explains a little bit about what they already know and found out through research. ELL should be a good resource for learning "beyond" the dictionary and thesaurus, but it's hard to go there when neither the thesaurus nor the dictionary are even mentioned. More about that can be found at this meta post. – J.R. May 19 '15 at 2:21
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    As a native AmE speaker, I would say that you can join a basketball club, but not enter one. However, if it were a basketball tournament, I would say that either "joining" or "entering" the tournament was fine. Once I start thinking like that, I can see how a learner could get confused and want clarification. I don't think it's a bad question. – Keiki May 19 '15 at 4:51

You can enter a contest, a tournament or a building.
You can join a contest, a league or a social group.*

In the U.S., at least in my experience, a basketball club is a social grouping or league. Therefore you join the basketball club.

A tennis club on the other hand, could refer to the social group OR to a physical building it occupies. If you join the tennis club, you are signing up to play tennis with other people. If you enter the tennis club, you are walking in the front door. Parallels exist for yacht clubs, rowing clubs, and golf clubs.** It is impossible to not note that the pastimes for which "club" is used to refer to the building are all hobbies traditionally associated with wealth.

* If you join a contest, there is an implication of less competitive desire than if you enter a contest. You might join a charity race - mostly for fun, but you would enter the Olympics, striving to bring home gold. You could, however, join the Olympic team.

** Golf clubs, of course, can also be swung. Context matters!

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