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Written by Arun Sundaresan
The typical big-draw college sports like men's football struggle for any kind of following at Wash U—bleachers for these events are, at best, peppered with loyal fans and the occasional girlfriend or boyfriend. Most other sports suffer the same fate. For three sports, however, turnout is never a problem: the women's volleyball team, which has won eight national championships since 1989; the women's basketball team, which won four consecutive NCAA titles (1996–2000); and the men's basketball team, which won back-to-back national championships in 2008 and 2009. Each enjoy a contingent of die-hard fans and draw big crowds for their high-quality matches. One of the best aspects of varsity sports at Wash U is the Bomb Squad—a group of camo-clad men from Phi Delta Theta that cheer at all the men's basketball home games.
The real sports scene at Wash U is recreational. Thousands of students participate in the intramural leagues, and it's fair to say that Wash U is an exceptionally athletic campus when compared to its peers. The annual Residential College Olympics on the South 40 are only one of many major amateur sporting events throughout the year, including several 5K runs, year-long IM leagues, and intra-fraternity competitions. There are also a number of club sports, often slightly more competitive than IM leagues, that provide a middle-ground between recreational sports and varsity. The running club is populated by former high-school long-distance stars; the sailing club competes at national regattas against top state-schools; the crew club practices every morning before class. The list of organizations is very long. Athletic students, in any case, will not wilt for lack of ways to stay in shape.
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