Appreciate the value of GW’s Division I sports

Teddy Clamp, a sophomore double-majoring in international affairs and history, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

Here at GW, we aren’t well-known for our love of sports. Unfortunately, I’ve only seen the Smith Center reach its 5,000-person capacity a few times during men’s basketball games.

If men’s basketball — one of the most popular sports at GW — doesn’t have the entire campus cheering, it’s discouraging to think about what attendance must be like for other sports. The talented athletes of GW’s other 23 men’s and women’s Division I varsity sports teams deserve the limelight, too.

I love going to these matches and meets, where I can get a closer view of so many top-level sports. In fact, my personal goal is to attend at least one match for each Division I sport at GW. This fall, I’ve already attended several gymnastics meets, and have observed that the volleyball team is incredibly talented (and really tall). This year, I hope more students take advantage of the opportunity we have to cheer on our athletes.

Some of these students will go on to become professional athletes, and some might even go on to compete internationally. Many already do: For example, the squash team has international competitors not only for the United States, but also for Colombia and Ireland. And Patricio Garino of the men’s basketball team just returned from helping Argentina qualify for the 2016 Olympics at the FIBA Americas championship.

These events might not be the Olympics, but they still are professional-caliber sports right on your doorstep — and for free. Plus, you get to cheer on these athletes before the rest of the world learns their names, and you might not realize how hard it is to compete at the top level until you’ve watched them up close.

I can promise that watching any team win a game is an amazing feeling. And the roar that goes through the crowd when your team spikes the volleyball and crashes it into the floor, scores the winning basket or strikes out the last batter is unmatched.

Life in Foggy Bottom can get hectic and stressful, so it’s definitely worth it to take some time to relax and enjoy watching these incredible sports. Not only is it exciting, but it also makes you feel like you’re part of something more — a nice break from the day-to-day stressors of life.

I’ve found my place watching sports with the Colonial Army, a group that has doubled in size over the past two years. Members show up at many sporting events, not just men’s basketball games. And there’s something special about clapping and screaming with your fellow students that you can’t find anywhere else on campus.

So drop in at a gymnastics meet for half an hour, and see some impressive back-flips and daring vaults. Head out to the Vern to catch a soccer game. It may be the only time in your life you can watch such amazing athletes play their hearts out for free — so don’t miss out.

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