Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Tragic Dad Vail Chapter Closed

This past week a tragic chapter in the history of the Dad Vail regatta was closed with the publication on row2k of the Scott Laio Medical Assessment. Among other things, the Assessment says that "there was absolutely NO reason for Scott not to participate in competitive rowing given the data from the autopsy, the results of the EKG performed on Scott 4 years earlier, and the results from a cardiology exam (electrocardiogram, stress test and echocardiogram) performed as a reference last June on Scott's 17 year old brother, Michael who is also a competitive rower. Scott was a model picture of good health and physical condition." Of particular note to the lightweight world was the finding that "one could presume adequate hydration." So, despite constant media insinuations to the contrary, Scott Laio did not abuse his health to row as a lightweight.

Unfortunately, the insinuations continue. On May 11, the day this assessment was published on row2k, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a story about the elimination of race-day weigh-ins. In that story is a paragraph that states, "In late June, the Philadelphia medical examiner issued a report that determined Laio died from a fluid and electrolyte imbalance and heat stress, conditions that can be related to dehydration, according to some physicians." The following day, on May 12th, the Inquirer published another Dad Vail story which stated, "The Philadelphia medical examiner determined that Laio died from a fluid and electrolyte imbalance and heat stress, which could have been related to dehydration." The Assessment stated, "Blood tests showed electrolyte levels of potassium and sodium consistent with expected levels for an athlete at the end of a competitive race."

When it comes to lightweight rowing erroneous assumptions like these are made all the time, in everything from newspaper articles to research papers. Assumptions like these are at the root of the NCAA's desire to kill lightweight rowing. And assumptions like these are wrong. Why is it that when a non-athlete watches what she eats she's "taking care of her body," but when a lightweight rower watches what she eats it's "disordered eating?" Lightweight women really aren't the psychological wrecks the politically correct world makes them out to be, they're just exceptional athletes who aren't... "big."


Anonymous said...

I was at Vails and observed some pre-weigh-in activities. What I saw does not need to be stated here, but I do think there needs to be education about proper weight loss. Dehydration & vomiting are not the safest way to lose weight obviously. One can lose weight over time on a gradual slope without the "binging" if they are properly educated about how to take care of themselves in between the weigh-ins. I am certainly no expert on the subject but there were definitely some crews putting themsleves at risk for poor performance by their activites.

I was also on hand for the Scott Laio tragedy and it is truly a tragedy. I am in no way insinuating that Scott or any member of his crew were un-educated about how to lose weight properly. In fact, last year I saw nothing that would lead me to believe anything like that would have happened.

Anonymous said...

Lightweight rowing is meant for athletes who are naturally light, it is not meant for people who have to suck weight ever regatta.

Eliminating day of weigh-ins will not solve the problem it will only encourage athletes to suck weight with the belief that they will have another day or so to rehydrate. Coaches and teams need to take responsibility for their rower's health by making sure they only boat rowers who can make weight on a regular basis, while eating and drinking enough. Regular weigh-ins throughout the season are the best way to make sure this happens.

Sucking weight lowers your performance, skews the "even playing field" of a weight based sport and endangers rowers. All in all it is a bad idea and something no crew should be doing on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

i think a lot of what happens at weigh ins is obviously the responsibility of the rowers, but the coach too. He/she needs to be there when they weigh in and oversee everything that's going on. I know our coach would never stand for anyone running with clothes on, throwing up or anything else. That's just ridiculous, dangerous and plain stupid.

SaraRow said...

Eliminating race-day weigh-ins just moves irresponsible behavior to the day before. It boggles my mind that college-level coaches in school-funded sports programs are not receiving more of the admonishment for this type of behavior. But just as with wrestling, action only comes as a re-action to a tragedy, and the results are poorly thought out and poorly executed.

You can't stop test cheating by moving the test, and you can't stop people from sucking weight by moving weigh-ins. And you certainly can't stop a 19 or 20-year-old from doing something stupid if his/her coach is encouraging it. Start with those who should know better.

And now, I will stop preaching to the choir.

steve r, said...

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I do have a question about this story. You note that there was a finding that "one could presume adequate hydration." This finding was based on fluid and food intake in the hours between weigh-ins and the race. Hypothetically, and I really mean it that way, if someone was severely dehydrating themselves for days before the race, is it possible for them to adequately rehydrate in the hours preceding their race? If not, I don't see how the intake the day of the race can prove this.

Also, coming from a lightweight, eliminating race-day weigh-ins just enourages weight sucking behavior. If you have to race two days in a row below 160 (130) you know you better be at that weight well before the day of the race. However, if you know you just have to weigh lightweight the night before your first race, it is much easier to just suck the weight up until that point, since you dont have to remain at that weight.

Just my 2 cents

Anonymous said...

with the new IRA rule of one weigh-in on thursday for heats on friday and the final on saturday, it opens up the possibility for coaches to boat rowers who are not natural lightweights. this potentially puts true lightweights at a disadvantage when they are sitting on the line becuase their competition has cheated the system by allowing their rowers to cut weight and then rehydrate and eat back to their initial weight. what's the point of rowing lightweight if your competition is midweight?

Anonymous said...

For those of you who didn't know...Scott was essentially a natural lightweight. My college coach taught him to row when he was a junior, and he easily fit the profile. If you read the article again, they don't attribute his death at all to his weight loss.

Crew Dad said...

I did know Scott, and he was a "natural" lightweight and did not employ harmful means to drop a few pounds. One thing to be careful of..... the same paper that perpetuated questions two weeks ago is the same one that published that tasteless picture of Scott's lifeless body being pulled from his boat last year. Remember what sells papers..... controversy and SHOCK.