Monday, March 06, 2006

A Slap in the Face, Courtesy of Rowing News

The latest issue of Rowing News contained its annual collegiate preview, in which lightweight women were given exactly two sentences, in a sidebar. Two sentences! [Update: The two sentences are below.] Heavyweight men, lightweight men, and heavyweight women were all given a page or more. This is inexcusable and, quite honestly, a mystery to me. Lightweight women are one of the four primary categories in rowing and in some boathouses the most successful programs on the water. Write to Rowing News and express your displeasure. You can write to Of course, I did write and my letter is below:

Dear Editor,

I was extremely disappointed that you were unable to provide adequate coverage of the women’s lightweight season in your 2006 collegiate preview. The two sentences you did write provided more of a slap in the face than a commentary. Your decision to treat one of the four primary categories in rowing as an afterthought is inexplicable.

If you want drama, it doesn’t get more dramatic than watching Wisconsin try to continue fighting off the Eastern powerhouses to create a dynasty. What about Princeton’s and Radcliffe’s determination to return to glory? Have you watched Stanford and Georgetown making the off-season moves they hope will propel them into the Big Three? Meanwhile, we wonder if Dayton (where did they come from?) can sustain their Dad Vail championship season of last year. We get to see if UCF, URI, and Bucknell will be successful as they build their lightweight programs, and we watch to see if Ohio State can stay in the top ten with a club program. This is where rowing is growing and this is where the most interesting stories of the next several years will be found.

A recent analysis on Fight in the Dog (, a blog dedicated to women’s lightweight rowing, found that last year over 70 different schools raced lightweight women’s eights or fours, resulting in over 300 race entries. Over the past two years over 90 different schools raced lightweight boats. Does that kind of participation sound like it’s worth only two sentences to you? More programs are seriously racing lightweight women every season. While Title IX fueled demand for heavyweight women athletes far outstrips supply, lightweights are a picture of women’s rowing as it once was – women with guts and heart racing for the glory of their school and their sport, not scholarships and Adidas warm-up suits.

To ignore lightweight women is to ignore the future of the sport in the US as well as internationally. While some critics trot out old canards long since shown to be false, lightweights just keep growing stronger and rowing faster. We usually read about the “main stream media’s” failures covering politics, not sports. Now we see it in rowing. As Rowing News sees fit to cover a whole category of rowing in two sentences, it falls to blogs such as Fight in the Dog to cover what you will not. Your omission was inexcusable and I hope for more professional coverage of rowing in the future.


JW Burk
Fight in the Dog

Remember, write to the editor so he knows lightweights do exist, do race, and do read Rowing News. Write to

[Update: The two sentences in the Rowing News article:
"Look for a bunch of strong sophomores to add to the existing speed of the Wisconsin lightweight women. The two-time defending national champions finished first among collegiate lightweights at the Head of the Charles and remain the crew to beat this spring, but look for Princeton to eat into last year's three-second margin for a tight IRA final."]


just as pissed said...

what were the two sentences RowingNews felt were enough to cover lightweight rowing?

JW Burk said...

The post has been updated with the two sentences.

Rower06 said...

I read that and I was pretty unhappy. I'll be attending Radcliffe next year as a lightweight recruit and I'm sick of the lack of respect for lightweight rowing. Lightweights deserve more credit and I'm happy your blog works to help the world of lightweight rowing. Thanks!

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