Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lightweight Entries at Worlds

I like to look at lightweight entries at Worlds every year as another check on the health of women's lightweight rowing. There are three events for lightweight women - the 2x (the Olympic event), the 1x, and the 4x. This year both the 2x and the 1x have more entries than last, while the 4x has one fewer. Only four events have more entries than the LW2x (22, the same as the heavy women's 1x and LM4-), and they are all mens'. The LW1x has 21 entries, seventh in popularity. The LW4x is farther down the list with only six entries, although the LM4x has five and the heavy women's 4x has eight highlighting the lower popularity of that boat class (the heavy men have fifteen). It's interesting to note that the light women and light men both have a slightly higher percentage of entries than events, while the heavy men and women are the opposite. I don't know how meaningful that is but I'll take it as a sign that demand for lightweight events is relatively strong.

I think this kind of indicator is important because if demand remains high internationally, FISA will look favorably on lightweight events. If FISA looks favorably on lightweight events they stay in the Olympics and remain a medal winning opportunity for the US. If they remain a medal winning opportunity for the US, USOC and therefore USRowing will see lightweight rowing as worth developing. That can only be good for collegiate lightweights. As the USOC and USRowing continue to emphasize number of medals, a WL2x gold is just as valuable as a M8+. This kind of thinking has resulted in the mens' priority boat being the 4- this year, not the eight (i.e. let's see if we can win in a smaller boat and then spread around those 8+ rowers). It's kind of like a team championship, isn't it? The country with the most medals wins, except there are no extra points for eights. Hmmm, the LW2x just as valuable as the M8+? That's not very NCAA like, but that might be where the USOC is headed.

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