Friday, November 03, 2006

Typical Speculative Weight Story in Yale Daily News

A few weeks ago the Yale Daily News published a story entitled, Weight troubles athletes. This story is typical of the genre in that it discusses eating disorders among lightweight rowers (in this case men) without providing any statistics or even anecdotal evidence that this group of athletes experiences these disorders more frequently than the population at large. In fact, it fails to produce one member of the team with an eating disorder. One person quoted as an authority is a female heavyweight rower who claims to see male rowers who lose 30 pounds from summer to season. Obviously, that kind of rower is not a lightweight, but she offers no names and her claim isn't confirmed.

The weigh-in issue we've discussed here is touched upon by rowers, however, when the article states, "The 17 to 20 hours between weigh-in and a race give rowers a chance to hydrate and take in calories before the competition, team members said." Readers have pointed to this exact practice and have criticized these weigh-in rules saying that true lightweights should be capable of weighing-in just prior to a race without a loss of performance due to dehydration or lack of calories.

The usual three points to be made here:

- "Eating disorders" as defined in all studies I've seen with definitions is what a lay person would call "dieting." All college women do it.

- Whenever I've seen statistics for lightweight women rowers with "eating disorders" (using the expansive definition), the numbers show that they are no more likely to be affected than their peer group.

- Lightweight rowing should not be lumped with other allegedly "at-risk" sports because unlike those other sports, there is no incentive for rowers to drop to a weight below the minimum. In fact, rowers want to be as close as they can to the minimum because lower weight will mean a loss of power.

I get tired of reading these stories and I get tired of writing about these stories, but I don't feel it is proper to let them go unchallenged.


Anonymous said...

you're an idiot

Anonymous said...

well, speaking from experience, the 30 pounds isn't an exaggeration at all. there are lightweight males who sit 30 pounds above weight in the summer (and are still slim by most definitions).

in a sport with only 2 weight classes, if you're a naturally 175-185 pound male at a good rowing school, you'll only be competitive (a 1v candidate) at the lightweight level unless you're a superstar.

i'd kill for a midweight class.