Friday, August 18, 2006

A Suggestion

In championship regattas, team points trophies are a desirable piece of hardware. Although I'm not a big fan, coaches want them, athletic directors want them, and the NCAA's rule over women's heavyweight rowing as a "team sport" has made them more important than ever. The only championship regatta I'm aware of, however, in which the results of the light eight counts toward such a trophy is the A10's. It seems to me then, that one way to grow lightweight rowing would be to make it count toward a major championship team trophy. I suggest we start with the Willing Trophy at EAWRC Sprints.

There are probably easier championships with which to start, but none with more tradition or prestige. Sprints are the place to have the biggest impact. If the Sprints schools began to develop lightweight programs, that would represent some real progress in growing the sport. Of the 16 schools entered in the V8 competition last season, 10 have lightweight men's programs so they are no strangers to lightweight rowing. The points at stake for the LV8 event need to be substantial as well. They need to reflect the fact that the light eight is a varsity eight race. One point down from the V8 points seems about right (actually that would be similar to the 2V8 and N8). If there were 17 or 18 points at stake in the LV8 race it might make some schools think about a program.

Of course, if this were implemented there would be a hue and cry from those schools without women's lightweights. No problem, announce it two or three years in advance. Give each school a chance to develop a lightweight program before the points count.

Clearly this is no panacea, but it can't hurt. It would give the heavyweight coaches in the CRCA an opportunity to truly represent lightweights to the ECAC when they support this move. It would broaden the growth of women's rowing. The major heavyweight programs have more scholarships than they can possibly give to big high school girls with rowing experience, yet many high school rowers don't row in college but would like to. They are lightweights. This is how the women's side of the sport will continue to grow and a role in the Willing Trophy is a place to start.

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