Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wanted: Opposing Views

Over the past year, I’ve written frequently about the NCAA and somewhat less frequently about the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association. My last post on the CRCA was a tongue-in-cheek criticism of the organization for excluding lightweight coaches from the voting for Coach of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year. A reader took me to task for this post saying “the baseless claims about the CRCA, NCAA, and any woman who rows and isn't under 130 lbs are getting to be a little too much.” Of course, I would argue with the term “baseless” and I really don’t think I knock heavyweights very much at all (except for my refusal to use the weenie term “openweight”). I would imagine, however, that because I am the only one posting here, reading what I think of the NCAA and the CRCA can get pretty tiresome. So, in the interest of community, dialog, etc., etc., I’d like to post an opposing view (or views). If you think the NCAA, with its current involvement, has been good for the sport of rowing in general, and more specifically has been good for women’s lightweight rowing, tell me why. If you think the CRCA has supported and advocated for women’s lightweight rowing, let me know how.

Before anyone writes to me, however, take a look at what I’ve written about the NCAA. You can start with an email interview I conducted with a NCAA representative here, and my comments here. Read some thoughts on a women's lightweight championship here, and here is a coach who confirms the NCAA's worry about the "eating disorder" canard among lightweights. (Honestly, I think the NCAA is hostile to lightweights.) Finally, most of what I've written about the NCAA has been related to the Pac 10 proposal for a men's heavyweight NCAA championship. Frankly, if all categories of rowing, or no categories of rowing, had NCAA championships, I’d worry a lot less about the NCAA. As long as certain categories do and certain categories don’t, I’ll hammer them every opportunity I get.

I’ve written less about the CRCA so let me just say that I consider the CRCA to simply be an NCAA advisory body with little interest in, or concern with, women’s lightweight rowing. Yes, there is a lightweight committee which I suspect does some good work, but I don’t consider the existence of that committee dependent on the CRCA. It seems to me that the work done by the committee is a result of the interest and dedication of the members of that committee, and is done in the face of total indifference from the rest of the CRCA. I can’t recall ever seeing a lightweight issue addressed in CRCA board minutes. My questions for the CRCA would be (maybe I’ll ask them one of these days): Do you advocate the growth of women’s lightweight rowing? What are you doing to support that position? Do you advocate a NCAA championship for lightweight women? What are you doing to support that position?

Let me know your thoughts because, I am coachable.


Anonymous said...

How come lightweights have to follow the rules of the heavies (practice hours, etc), if we're not NCAA

Anonymous said...

If your athletic department has you on their website, you are NCAA. If you want unlimited practice hours with a volunteer coach, feel free to transfer schools and pay $1000 a year to row and sleep on gym floors. Trust me, you'd rather be NCAA with your athletic department's blessing.

The CRCA was the only effective avenue avenue to disseminate information to the only people related to rowing who have the athletic directors' ears (women's rowing coaches) about the PAC-10 rowing proposal of men's rowing becoming a recognized NCAA sport. Had that been the case, there would be no IRA and any LW national championship would be self organized and have little credibility. I'm guessing no IRA would drop Stanford, Wisco, Gtown, and URI from having exclusive LW coaches.

Also, the CRCA is the main organization who has input into the NCAA championship and how it is structured. Jim Deitz at UMass has been trying to gain momentum to have NCAA's adopt a feeling more like the World Championships, instead of the current format having a first Varsity plus two JV boats. His conference is the only one that crowns a conference championship in a sculling event. Also, the A10 crowns a L8 and L4 conference champion. Aside from the EAWRC (who merely carves aside race time in its league) I don't know of many other conferences that is committed to lightweight rowing to the point of crowing conference champions, and he is the driving force behind it.

The CRCA LW committee at the time led by Steve Kish at Bucknell was instrumental in changing the IRA weigh ins, again using the CRCA membership as a sounding board. One day weigh-ins may not be the fairest thing in the world, but they likely are the safest when it comes down to a 2nd race of the day if you had to weigh in that morning.

I'm not trying to set the record straight or pick a fight, I'm just saying there are a lot of things the CRCA does without being broadcast on the chat boards or row2k. I'm an ex LW women's rower myself too at a non-LW school who still has interest in the goings on. They pay my CRCA dues so I get the emails. I do think the CRCA is an advocate for LW women's rowing, but I may have rose coloured glasses on. By the way, keep the blog alive.

JW Burk said...

That's good information about Jim Dietz and the A10. It never quite registered that the A10 is the only conference that crowns a lightweight champion. I also like the 4x event. This is probably worth some further inquiry.