If you really want to see crew races, it is (in my opinion) one of those sports best watched on TV with helicopter and speedboat coverage and nifty little computer generated lines that show you how the boats compare. If you want to spend a lovely day outside with occasional bursts of “Here they come…and there they go…” and visit with your kid and his teammates, live if just perfect.
I learned a lot today—you’re teammates (crewmates?) are really nice people (at least the ones I had the opportunity to chat with) and they educated me even before they knew I’d brought brownies. Very classy people. For example, I did not know that – in addition to yelling helpful things like “row, dagnabit!” – the coxswain controls the rudder and has other nifty little levers to control the pitch of the boat. Favorite thing I learned today: the coxswains (is that the correct plural?) use a cox box – the microphone system – so that the crew can hear them. I love whoever came up with the term.
Deciding that there might be other things about the sport I didn’t know, I consulted my good friend the internet. Rowing is a positively ancient sport (they didn’t call it crew then, primarily because no one spoke English). Amenhotep II was “renowned for his feats of oarsmanship”. Don’t ask what “feats of oarsmanship” means. I copied it from Wikipedia so it must be true, but it sounds like something out of an X-rated movie.
As I was walking around yesterday, I heard someone (from another school) checking about oars for each of the rowers in an 8 man scull. “So that’s wood, wood, rubber, rubber, wood, right?” I assume he was asking about handles, but if that doesn’t sound like it belongs in the same movie, I don’t know what would. Or wood.
The sport itself makes crazy physical demands on the athletes. You get in trouble for looking at the river banks (from the coxswain, not the officials), because it throws off the boat (and presumably your concentration) so there is no waving to mom on the sidelines riverbanks. You have to be athletic on land as well as in the water, because the rowers carry the boats, flipping them upside down, and then right side up. I think Synchronized Boat Moving should be an Olympic sports. It’s really very impressive to watch.
Most races are too long to be a real sprint but too short to be marathon-like. According to my research (ha), rowers therefore have to have some of the highest power outputs of athletes in any sport. Physiologists claim that rowing a 2,000-meter race – equivalent to 1.25 miles – is equal to playing back-to-back basketball games. Without the dribbling.
Breathing is important in rowing. OK, it’s important to all of us. To be more specific, the rowing motion compresses the rowers’ lungs, limiting oxygen, so rowers have to learn to take two breaths per stroke to avoid becoming dead weight.
There appear to be different philosophies regarding hat wearing during races. There are the Wear Hats and the Don’t Wear hats. Both groups seem to be getting along well (but not in the same boat) and their disagreement over headgear has not shut down the governing body of The Sport of Rowing. Perhaps our government could take a lesson from our oar-wielding friends. (Sorry, I am now Official Annoyed by the government shutdown and what it is doing to families. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.)
Rowers are the third largest U.S. delegation (48 athletes) to the Olympic Games. Right behind Track & Field and Olympic Pin Collecting.
Dr. Benjamin Spock, the famous baby doctor, was an Olympic rower in 1924. Didn’t think I could connect babies and rowing, did you?
Congrats on the great win yesterday. It was wonderful seeing you, even briefly. Take care of those paws now that the season is over.