Friday, August 05, 2005

With Friends Like This...

...who needs enemies? This is an old story (2004), but what is up with Kris Sanford of Syracuse? In this story, the writer claims that programs such as Massachusetts and Villanova have an advantage over Syracuse because they have lightweight teams and Syracuse doesn't. This supposedly gives them more rowers to compete for the top heavyweight boat. The reader is left with the impression that Sanford believes this as well. This reasoning misses the fact that these programs (Villanova anyway) put out lightweight boats when they have a good group of lightweights in their program, not because they recruit lightweights. Schools that recruit lightweights don't switch them in and out of the heavyweight program. Syracuse, meanwhile, has the advantage of being able to recruit enough heavyweights to fill the available seats. This is no doubt a coach simply talking up the opposition for a news article.

Far more troubling, however, is Sanford's implication that all lightweight rowers lose an unsafe amount of weight to row, as if there are no natural lightweights. "It isn't safe," she says. If a coach doesn't understand how to run a "safe" lightweight program herself, she shouldn't assume it can't be done. This troglodyte attitude plays into unproven stereotypes of lightweight rowers as emaciated sticks who never eat. Gee, I wonder how they ever pull on an oar? This just isn't an issue in responsible programs (which nearly all are).

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