Wednesday, October 11, 2006

NCAA Bylaw

Boy, that sounds exciting, doesn't it? Oh well, that's life as a NCAA sport. Wait! Lightweight women aren't a NCAA sport, so I guess this isn't something you need to worry about, right?

If you're racing this fall, you may know what this bylaw addresses. For those of you who don't, it proscribes a college team from competing against a high school or prep school team, or a club team that contains "prospects." It seems that not too long ago, women's volleyball and softball teams used to set up tournaments against club teams full of high school prospects so the college coach could get a closer look. Rules were made to prohibit this in those sports, and finally, in March of this year, all teams were prohibited from competing against high school students.

Fall head races have long mixed high school and college crews together in certain events, resulting in fuller fields and better racing. No more. (This doesn't seem to affect men's races.) At least one reader of FITD has commented on how this rule has created some headaches for her crew, as some events are scrapped and others start two divisions. A look at the rules for the HOCR show that some events do not allow high school rowers while others will start those rowers separately, after the colleges.

While this rule is mostly just annoying and a nuisance, it serves to highlight, once again, the NCAA's complete lack of understanding of the history and traditions of rowing. It also highlights one of the NCAA's guiding sports principles - segregation. We are well aware of how the NCAA has required that rowing be segregated by sex, and now it demands that it be segregated by age. The practical result seems to be some shuffling of crews, but they will still race and college coaches can still watch them come down the course. This is true red tape - it inconveniences many but in the end fails utterly at its mission.

So here we are again, receiving none of the benefits of the NCAA, but suffering all of the pain. In this case it seems to have a relatively minor effect on college lightweight crews, but the question is, Why does it have any?


Anonymous said...

lightweight rowing is not its own sport. it is an event within women's rowing, like the pair, novice 4, v8.

Anonymous said...

Responding to the above...that is obviously not the opinion of the NCAA or else lightweights would be a varsity sport recognized by them.

JW Burk said...

This "event" comment has been made before (by the same reader?). I addressed it and its ramifications in a previous post. I think this reader is correct as far as the NCAA is concerned, which only serves, again, to highlight the NCAA's lack of understanding of the sport of rowing. I won't go into everything in the previous post here, but I will say that pair rowers do not have separate coaches, separate equipment, separate racing schedules, and on occasion, separate boathouses as do lightweight rowers. In addition, all rowers on a women's team are not eligible to race lightweight as they are eligible to race another event in rowing, such as a pair. Whatever the NCAA may think, clearly lightweight rowing is NOT simply another event.

Anonymous said...

I know this blog is geared toward the collegiate women's lightweights, but I have a junior lightweight daughter who hopes to rown in college. And, so I read and participate in this blog occasionally. As a result of the new enforcement of the NCAA rule, the regatta that my daughter is racing in in the next few weeks excluded juniors from "open" events. OK, so that's the bad news. The good news is that it also added a junior women's lightweight singles race. This is very good news! Lightweight sculling events for junior women (and even for collegiate women) have, until now, been virtually nonexistent, although I think the SE region offers the junior singles event at its qualifying regatta for nationals (Apparently, offering lightweight events for juniors tends to traumatize the kids into developing eating disorders or something. OK, so what happens if your kid is naturally under 125 pounds eating anything she wants?! Does she really have to race in junior girls' singles races against girls whose legs themselves constitute two of her? Up until recently, and if you didn't live in the SE region, the answer was "yes"). But, because of the new rule enforcement, some regattas are offering events that they have not previously offered. The fall head racing season looks to be conducive to lightweight junior racing.

Spring regattas will present a problem, however. There are only so many lanes and race times in a day at a sprint race. Juniors will clearly suffer as a result if they are excluded from any races other than juniors' events. Thus, any benefits seen in the fall head races for junior lightweight women will be nonexistent in the spring.

So, what the NCAA gives on the one hand, it takes on the other (even if unintentionally).

JW Burk said...

This is an interesting result of this rule, and one of which I was unaware. My experience has also been that even in areas with a lot of high school sculling, there are no lightweight sculling events.

The spring season is different than the fall, however, because there are no mixed junior/college events. It's rare, but occasionally juniors will race at the same regatta as collegiate rowers, but not in the same events. You are probably correct that the new lightweight sculling events won't carry over into the spring, but I don't think there will be any harm done to juniors as a result of the NCAA rule because there are no affected spring races (at least that I know of).