Alert! (Red) Alert! Bearing witness to Wash. U. sports

If you ask the average Washington University student whether he or she has regularly attend athletic events to support the Bears, your odds of getting ‘yes’ as an answer will likely be slim. Many of us have heard the jokes about how Wash. U. is the only school where a cappella concerts get higher turnout than football games (not intended in any way as a slight against a cappella shows, which are among the best events the school has to offer).

Despite becoming the new athletic director only a few months ago, Josh Whitman is trying to turn the lack of enthusiasm for University teams around. Whitman and a revitalization of Red Alert, a student group that offers students special prizes, games and T-shirts when they attend a Bears game, have increased student awareness of Bears’ sports this season. The addition of the Red Alert Tailgate Zone has been especially helpful, drawing a larger crowd of students to attend games.

By informing all undergraduate students about Red Alert via email, Whitman has showed his willingness to reach out and engage the general student body about the school’s athletics. (By the way, props to Red Alert for this year’s tank-top design). If Whitman continues to assert his presence among students, Wash. U. athletics should see more benefits with greater support from the community.

In addition, resident advisors can encourage their freshmen to attend athletic events and support their floormates, which helps spread a greater appreciation of our athletics and athletes—but only if the department and Red Alert build on the initial enthusiasm. Just last weekend, a pair of soccer games saw increased attendance largely from freshman floors; making signs and cheering on floormates is just a great way to bond, if nothing else.

Our attendance numbers in the past have typically ranged between 100 and 500, with most of the attendants being other student-athletes—however, the spectator numbers are showing promising upward trends this season. In the most recent home football game against North Park University, 1,652 spectators attended the game, only 356 shy of the overall Division III football game average last season.

Wash. U. has an impressive legacy to pitch to its student body in sports far beyond just football. With 19 national championships, 162 conference championships and an average winning percentage of about 79 percent in its illustrious history, Wash. U. puts on great performances each season, and its athletes are continuing to break new records each week.

Sophomore goalkeeper Lizzy Crist blocks a shot from a Wheaton College attacker on Saturday at Francis Field.  Crist saved all five shot of Wheaton’s attempts on goal as the teams played to a 0-0 tie.Mary Richardson | Student Life

Sophomore goalkeeper Lizzy Crist blocks a shot from a Wheaton College attacker on Saturday at Francis Field. Crist saved all five shot of Wheaton’s attempts on goal as the teams played to a 0-0 tie.

Right now, women’s soccer is the top-ranked team in the country with women’s volleyball coming in at No. 4; in Forest Park, meanwhile, the women’s cross-country team slots in at No. 5 nationally with its male counterpart running at No. 12.

The Bears have two important games this Sunday that students should attend, with both soccer teams taking on Emory University. Emory is a chief conference rival for the Bears, and both of the opposing teams are ranked in the top 10 nationally—spectators should expect a pair of good showdowns at Francis Field. So take a study break this weekend, throw on your Michael Jordan-inspired Red Alert tank and go support your fellow Bears.

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