Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lightweights and the CRCA - Comments

The most obvious point to make about Coach Teitelbaum's answer is that he does not say that the CRCA supports the continued growth of women's lightweight rowing. This was my first question and it goes unanswered. I find that curious because that question was clearly a softball, an icebreaker meant to get us both on the same page so we could ease into more difficult areas.

In fact, none of my questions were answered as the coach simply said that the CRCA considers only those issues raised by the lightweight committee. This suggests that he is unfamiliar with the lightweight issues I raised and is reluctant to say that the organization supports the category. By comparison, I would ask if the Executive Director of USRowing would be able to answer questions about lightweights in the Olympics and state USRowing's position on the growth of lightweight events. I'm quite sure he would. (Coach Teitelbaum implied he was reluctant to answer my questions because he couldn't possibly know what all heavyweight coaches think. I replied that I was looking for an organizational response and that I was writing to him as the head of the organization.)

As Coach Teitelbaum himself implies, the fact that the head of an organization of heavyweight coaches is unfamiliar with lightweight issues is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is that the organization purports to represent lightweights to USRowing, the NCAA, and other legislative arenas.

Although I asked, Coach Teitelbaum did not name any specific measures the CRCA has taken to support lightweight rowing. Again, for a heavyweight organization this would be perfectly understandable, but that is not what the CRCA claims to be.

Finally, for all of the reliance Coach Teitelbaum puts on the lightweight committee, until this past year it was headed by a heavyweight coach who happens to have lightweights racing in his program.

Coach Teitelbaum's comments make me continue to believe that the CRCA sees lightweights and the lightweight committee as an unwanted step-child for whom they've been forced to care. With new leadership I think the committee will play a larger role in CRCA activities. This committee structure may actually prove to be useful for lightweights, but it's impossible to tell until it raises some difficult issues to the full membership. Until it becomes an unruly step-child.

There is a problem, however, with the unruly step-child model. The lightweight coaches on the committee will have to be unruly to their bosses and future bosses. In many cases, but not all, lightweight coaches report to the women's heavyweight coach (see the recent Wisconsin coaching announcement). In many more cases, for reasons of pay and authority, those lightweight coaches someday hope to be heavyweight coaches (men's or women's) at the more prominent heavyweight powerhouses. All that makes it awfully tough to be unruly.

Nonetheless, I do believe that the current committee, building on the momentum of the best lightweight season ever, will be able to make some major inroads in the CRCA. It will require a deft political hand and an ability to uncover latent lightweight support. There are many heavyweight coaches who support lightweight rowing, and the lightweight committee needs to mobilize that support.

The obvious question, of course, is mobilize that support to what end? I'm not privy to the committee's agenda and I'm sure it doesn't need my help to set it, but...
I have a suggestion that would help grow lightweight rowing, but would be perceived to cause some pain for heavyweights. A suggestion that could only become reality with the support of the heavyweight coaches. A suggestion that would probably be dismissed out of hand but shouldn't be. I'll explain it in a coming post.


Anonymous said...

I understand not wanting to support weight classes. But I think heavyweights can do less and be fast than lightweights. I think lightweights have to really get ahead of the game to keep up. I'm not commenting on heavyweights, but I've noticed lightweights overall absolutely have to be good athletes in the sense that they are built muscularly, cariovascularly, and especially mentally, as long as we aren't supported. Not everyone was born a six foot lever.

Anonymous said...

ergs don't float and seat racing doesn't lie.