Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Coaches' Thoughts on Lightweight Rowing (cont.)

The third set of questions dealt with team trophy points calculations:

3) Women’s lightweights are usually, if not always, ignored in regatta team trophy points calculations. While I don’t really understand the desirability of the team win vs. the V8 win, I seem to be in the minority. Changing this seems to be the quickest way to grow lightweight rowing. Can this be changed?

This was a pretty simple question and it resulted in some pretty different answers. One coach said that all the regattas raced by that team include lightweights in the points calculations (looking at the regattas, I don't think that's quite correct). A few coaches sang the praises of the A-10 championship which does include lightweights in the calculation. The A-10 also received some kudos for including sculling events and the pair. A few coaches felt that heavyweight coaches will always be an obstacle to the inclusion of lightweight events in the team trophy because there are simply a lot more heavyweight programs without lightweights than with. One coach echoed my email exchange with the CRCA president, Andy Teitelbaum, and noted heavyweight coaches' general opposition to lightweight rowing out of fear that it will rob their programs of good 2V (an NCAA championship event) and 3V athletes. This coach noted that heavyweight men's coaches have been using this same excuse for years. The coach goes on to say that this argument can be invalidated by looking at the women in the boathouses of Radcliffe, Wisconsin, and Princeton, and the men at Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.

Although not my intention with this question, the responses revealed the dirty little secret of women's rowing - heavyweight coaches oppose the growth of lightweight rowing. This attitude was also revealed in my email exchange with the CRCA's president. They don't oppose it for health reasons, but for a fear of losing resources (rowers, equipment, and funding). While I certainly understand a heavyweight coach pulling a lightweight rower into the heavyweight 1V, I find it unconscionable that a coach would deny an athlete the opportunity to race as a lightweight 1V, and possibly win a national championship, because he wants a faster heavyweight 2V. This, however, is where the NCAA championship format has helped drive us. If heavyweight coaches were to read this there would no doubt be some huffing and puffing about how they don't really oppose lightweights and actually would like to see the category grow. Really? Prove it - add lightweights to the team trophy calculation at Eastern Sprints.

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