Monday, May 07, 2007

The Difference Between Lightweights and Heavyweights

In honor of Sprints and Dad Vails, which for some lightweights are the only regattas at which they compete alongside their much larger sisters, I'd like to present a musical and videographic presentation of just some of the differences between heavyweights and lightweights. Actually, this is a self-portrayal by the Yale heavies, and although no lightweights appear, or are mentioned, I think you'll notice how these women differ from the lean, mean rowing machines we'll see this weekend.

Those of you at Ivy League schools have no doubt seen this video already, since it found it's way to IvyGate. Nonetheless, it's definitely worth showing here. By the way, imagine if lightweights made a video like this. The NCAA (which does/doesn't govern lightweight rowing) would be beating it's collective breast, interventions would be scheduled for the obviously sick filmakers, and the crew would no doubt be disbanded. Psychologists, sociologists, bingeologists, and perhaps some mixologists would descend upon the campus to offer counseling. Dr. Phil would have a police escort to the boathouse.

Food seems to be a fixation for heavyweight women as we often see that it plays a central role in their lives. To quote one of my all time favorite heavyweights, "I love that we’re big women and proud of it and proud that we’re strong and we love to eat." Despite this food issue, I still hope the NCAA keeps the heavyweight championship, because I'm sure with conscientious coaches and dedicated health and training staff, good heavyweight programs can ensure that their rowers aren't doomed to a life of beer and Twinkies after college athletics end. Remember lightweights, as you hear your heavyweight sisters clip-clopping around the boathouse, be considerate of their moods and feelings, because they're near the precipice, and one wrong word could push them over the edge.

Anyway, back to the video. There is only one thing to say about this thing - scary. Very, very, very SCARY. I always thought Yale was an obvious place for lightweights to take hold. Perhaps I'm wrong. (Warning: Naughty words ahead.)

How long do you think it took them to grow those mustaches?


Anonymous said...

This is a remake of a very popular YouTube video called shoes...

Anonymous said...

This would be more hilarious if it was the lightweights after weigh ins....thats when we REALLLY wanna get some food!

Anonymous said...

that was too funny.

Anonymous said...

In reponse to the 07 May 22:18 post, real lightweights don't starve themselves before weighins! Please stop perpetuating this stereotype.

Anonymous said...

1) yale does not have lightweights, therefore it is impossible for them to appear.
2) Not that you were paying close enough attention but at least 4 of the rowers in the video are at or near lightweight weight.
3) You have no sense of humor.
4) Stop being a hater.
5) Thanks.

Hayley said...

The seriousness of the analysis which you apply to this indicates that you have some kind of an unhealthy relationship with this topic. It is unfortunate that you couldn't have as much fun with it as we did.

Anonymous said...

Also, please refrain from being a huge repressed bitch.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is a joke. I was initially amused as you to embarrassed yourself with outlandish proclamations such as "Places 2 through 5 separated by 28 seconds, not a huge amount, so this wasn't simply a case of a group of boats of wildly differing quality." Your skewed perspective of the reality of Women's Lightweight rowing was funny and some of my friends even were sure it was satire.
Your bashing of open weight women, with quotes such as "I think you'll notice how these women differ from the lean, mean rowing machines we'll see this weekend" is however, outrageous. Open weight woman are head and shoulders more competitive and athletically gifted than their 'smaller sisters' and row in a stacked league full of future national teamers and olympians from all over the world. Do yourself a favor and stick with the more unintentional humor of declaring horizon jobs close races and non-existant recreational teams as national contenders than trying to be funny about open weight women.

Anonymous said...

To the "heavy" weight above. Enjoy the glory now because 40 and fat is not far away.

Anonymous said...

Factual correction: that “non-existent recreational” team really does exist. Clearly, seeing as how our neighborhood liteweight blogger stated factual race times (unless they have non existant races now? I’ll check into that, seems like less work) To claim a crew doesn’t exist just because you don’t believe they are viable competition is just plain ignorant. And overreact much?

Eric Catalano said...

To the person who made the comment about "40 and fat"... A better response would have been:

Your quote "open weight women are head and shoulders more competitive..." is not researched very well. If you look at the Sprints league (arguably the deepest league for both squads) it is a very common occurance (over the past few years) that the fastest lightweight boats would be in the grand final of the hvy 2V (or the petite final of the 1V) and the fastest lightweight novice boats would be in the grand final of the hvy nov.
I do agree that 28 seconds is a pretty big loss, but the top to bottom of the sprints league is a full minute at pretty much every level.
Lightweight medals at the olympics count for just as much as the heavyweight medals. I do not understand the hating going on in the above posts. We all love to row and invest ourselves deeply in making boats go as fast as we can.
Lets keep our focus there.

JW Burk said...

Oh my goodness, I was afraid of this. Can't we just have a teensy weensy sense of humor?

Anonymous said...

I second the post about this blog being a joke. A competitive event is one in which places 2 through 5 are separated by maybe 10 seconds (3 lengths, give or take).

I'm fine with the notion that some openweight women are very, very big people. By the same token, some lightweight rowers really are anorexic wackos with an eating disorder. That said, the best athletes in openweight women's rowing are better athletes than those in lightweight women's rowing.

Remove yourself from your delusions of self-importance. What makes you a better athlete in football? Being able to run faster, jump higher, hit harder, throw further, catch better, run through tackles, push the pile, etc. In short, perform the duties you're charged with performing better than the next guy.

What makes you a better athlete in a boat? Being able to move the boat faster. The best athletes in openweight women's rowing are more talented athletes and rowers than the best athletes in lightweight women's rowing, and to suggest otherwise is absurd. I'm a 5' 10", 130lb. guy, and I'm reasonably fast. Do I somehow get the right to claim that I'm somehow an athlete of equal capability to Calvin Johnson or JaMarcus Russell simply because, if I were eight inches taller and 100lbs. heavier, I might have the same talents as them? No, and I think anyone in their right mind would tell me I was absurd if I tried to make that assertion!

I can respect lightweight women for what they are: gritty competitors, often very technically adept rowers, and relative to their size, very strong. Goodness knows they can put more heat on the stick than I could. Does that make them better athletes than openweight rowers?

Not anymore than it makes me a more talented athlete than JaMarcus Russell.

P.K. said...

The video is FUNNY; it is a parody. It was NOT a social statement; it was a JOKE. YWC style. It was not "SCARY." If that comment was meant as a joke, it wasn't very well put.

And while I don't agree with everything on this blog, I find parts interesting, and (thought) I understood the general goal: exposure for women's lightweight rowing.

I like to think that most of us lightweights are lightweights because we ARE small; I am 5'6 and 125 pounds. I think myself and my teammates and fellow lightweights work with what we have (our small size), pull hard, and move boats as fast as is possible. What are we supposed to do, NOT row just cause maybe we're not "optimal" size? That's ridiculous. If you don't like lightweight rowing, don't follow it. And if you don't like heavyweight rowing for whatever reason, don't bash it either! What's the point?

And whoever thinks lightweights can't be fast... well.. just remember her:
Lisa Schlenker - LWT - 6:56.7

Anonymous said...

let's all just get some food.

Anonymous said...

So if you guys think that lightweights are not good athletes then why do you read this blog?

Anonymous said...

This food rules!

Anonymous said...

In response to the query as to why we might read this blog, I'd like to think that its possible to respect lightweight women's rowing without necessarily making it into something its not.

The assertion that lightweight women aren't good athletes has never been made. The finer distinction is that when using the standards by which one might reasonably judge rowers, lightweight women are not as athletically gifted as openweight women.

Someone made a football analogy, we can run with that and extend it further. There are countless numbers of rabid college football fans in this country, many of whom have tremendous respect for countless numbers of athletes who simply AREN'T gifted enough to play at the next level in the NFL. That's not to diminish the significance of what these collegiate football players are able to accomplish. The same parallel might be drawn with rowing. Its certainly possible to appreciate lightweight women's rowing for what it is, a fantastic opportunity for numbers of athletes who might not be gifted enough to compete if lightweight categories didn't give them a chance to compete against their peers.

We accept stratification by weight in numerous other sports, and don't seem to have a problem admitting that a heavyweight boxer would be a better boxer than a flyweight if they were forced into a bout, or that an elite-level 180lb. wrestler would come out on top in a match with an elite-level 120lb. wrestler nine times out of ten. There are always exceptions to the rules, and its no different from rowing: Jason Reed was (comparatively) a shrimp in the Gold Medal US Men's 8+ at Athens, and someone pointed out Schlenker's 6:56.7.

That only really serves to highlight the capacity of those individuals, however, not to make reasonable assertions that smaller, less physically gifted specimens are likely to be equally gifted boxers, wrestlers or rowers than their larger counterparts more physically suited to the particular demands of their chosen sport.

Just my $.02

Anonymous said...

AS a cox of a lightweight crew I am seriously offended (and laugh at?) by anyone who thinks lightweights can't pull or aren't athletes. Ask my bow seat, she's the same f-ing size as me (and I'm small, I am likely to get sand this weekend) and is one tough girl who's power to size ratio is probably larger than any fatty out there.
My girls work hard and are undefeated so far against crews liks wisco and georgetown ... don't bash us and our competition.

LikewiseI agree with 2 above comments:
1) yes it is true in BOTH lwt and hvwt rowing there are extremes of both types- too thin and too fat
2) what are lwt's supp to do? Not row? I'm lucky that some boats need coxswains or I'd be out of a spot, what am I supp to do bc I'm 5'2"
and weigh less than 110 lbs? Just eat cookies and twinkies and be a mini heavyweight lookalike while I need 2 seats on the bus bc my ass is so big? I at least hope all you "heavies" appreciate your coxswains if you don't respect lwt rowing.

Anonymous said...

let's get some food, let's partyyyyy

Anonymous said...

Lets continue with the football analogy. We should examine the heavyweight woman's cousin. The offensive lineman in football today is an athlete, albeit an obese one.You would never consider him as good an athlete as a lean wide receiver. Long after the glories of football( and rowing) are over, these large,heavy people will have to live with that girth and the punishment it causes their bodies.Bummer. But Americans,while raging through their own obesity epidemic, love to watch people as large as themselves. It makes them feel better about being overweight. Heavyweights, don't hate us for having a BMI below 25. And we will see you at worlds, making the same money as you. The obesity epidemic hasn't hit the eastern countries yet.

Anonymous said...

First of all, as a lightweight, openweights can be lean and muscular. If you're 5'10" and have muscle, let's hope you weigh more than 130 lbs. Just because the category of openweight allows you be over a certain weight doesn't mean that being over that weight means you're fat. Calm down people. If you have too much fat and your strength to weight ratio is low, the boat wont move fast. Collegiate rowers (130lbs plus or minus anyweight) put their heart and soul and a lot of sweat into rowing. Let's not belittle either category.

Also, there are a lot of other paradies of the original "Shoes" video, most of them changing the topic from shoes to food. Sorry, this video has no implications about the poor eating habits of these athlete; instead it shows that rowers have a creative side and a sense of humor in addition to their athletic side.

Any athlete likes to eat. Turns out food is pretty darn good source of fuel.

Dan said...

In reply to the comment 2 posts above:
Offensive lineman (specifically left tackle) the highest paid athletes on your average NFL team. This is because it is their job to protect the quarterback. Don't believe appearances - clearly the highest paid player is also going to be a tremendous athlete.

Anyways, as a four year collegiate lightweight, I can attest to the fact that the lights are certainly food obsessed just like their heavyweight brothers and sisters but partly because of the fact that they have to abstain from eating to their hearts content. As disturbing as this video was, I fear a lightweight version would be just as disturbing as they pine for the food they can't eat.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lightweight rower, and I eat as much as I want.

Daryl Traveston said...

I feel like I am arriving a little late to the party, but I wanted to address Eric Catalo's response to "anonymous's" claim that lightweight women's rowing was less competitive than open weight rowing. Caltalo suggested that this claim was "not researched very well." There are certainly many ways to assess competitiveness. One of these ways is through top end speed, which is certainly at a much higher level in the open weight division, as even the Wisconsin open wieghts (who aren't in the top 30 in the DI cmax) easily beat their own #1 ranked lightweight 1v. Another measure could be consistency. Any reader of this blog knows that it is not uncommon for a boat in the lightweight division to beat a crew by 10 seconds one week, only to lose by 3 seconds the next week (I'd post some examples, all from this blog, but I don't want anyone to single anyone out). This just doesn't happen with the same frequency at the open weight level, especially among the top tier programs. Lastly, and perhaps the best sign of competitiveness is spread among crews. Spread among lightweights should already be biased towards smaller spreads due to the lack of variance between body types among different crews (you won't see a boat of all 6'6" athletes going against 6"1 athletes like in heavyweight men's rowing for example, and we see this in the closeness of men's lightweight rowing). However, looking at the cmax, you can see that this measure shows that open weight women's rowing is again more competitive. The cmax would suggest the possibility that there will not even be any overlap at the IRAs in the final, as all crews in the top 6 are separated by at least 3 seconds except for Buffalo and Radcliffe. For woman's open weight, the top 3 crews are separated by 1.5 seconds, and 4-6 are separated by 0.5 seconds. In terms of total depth, the top 22 lightweight programs are separated by 45.2 seconds in the cmax. This is larger than the margin between #1 USC and #82 LaSalle for open weights. This is in no way a claim that lightweights cannot be good athletes and good rowers. However, for people to claim that lightweight women's rowing is a more competitive league is simply laughable.

Anonymous said...

Eric Catalo states:
"open weight women are head and shoulders more competitive..." is not researched very well. If you look at the Sprints league (arguably the deepest league for both squads) it is a very common occurance (over the past few years) that the fastest lightweight boats would be in the grand final of the hvy 2V (or the petite final of the 1V) and the fastest lightweight novice boats would be in the grand final of the hvy nov."

I believe that the writer of the "head and shoulders" comment should also look at last year's top two finishers at the Stotesbury Cup regatta. Both were lightweights.

One on one, lightweights are extremely competitive against the opens. To question their athletic and competitive abilities just shows how ignorant the writer is!

Anonymous said...

I'd like someone to clarify what it means to be "athletically gifted". I don't think the claim that openweights are more athletically gifted than lights is accurate. By the physics of rowing alone, a person of larger mass will be capable of applying more power to move a boat and thus, be capable of moving a boat faster than a lightweight. This does not say anything about athletic giftedness. Rowing alone is not a sufficient indicator of athleticism. For instance, that same openweight who beats a light in a boat may not be able to out race her in a 5k run. There is definitely variability in how athletically gifted individuals are, but I do not believe that this correlates with weight class. A smaller individual may be a better overall athlete than a larger individual. I know a lot of rowers, both heavy and light, that row technically well and apply power well on the water but do not have the coordination or athleticism to play football, hockey, or soccer. A lot goes into being a solid athlete that is not necessarily captured by evaluating one's rowing ability. My point is that saying a lightweihgt is less athletically gifted than an openweight is an unfair and inaccurate claim to make.

Marcus Ployster said...

anonymous writes: "One on one, lightweights are extremely competitive against the opens. To question their athletic and competitive abilities just shows how ignorant the writer is!"

What does this statement even mean? Are you saying that lightweight boats that are similar in speed to certain open weight boats are competitive with said open weight boats? That is the only thing I believe you could possibly mean, since light weight boats are indeed only competitive with sub-par 1vs or 2v open weight boats. Note the comment above about #1 wisco losing to their own 31st Cmax ranked open weights. Yes, lightweight boats can race even with open weight boats, but only when those open weight boats are slow compared to top end open weight speed. Yes, boats of similar speed will be competitive, and there are boats in the open weight division that are the same speed as boats in the light weight division. That just isn't a very novel point. There are also open weight crews (USC most likely) that would be competitive with the bottom teams in the men's heavyweight division according to the CMAX (teams that are 60 plus seconds back). This, however, would not mean that open weight women's rowing is "extremely" competitive "one-on-one" with heavyweight men's programs. That'd be a silly conclusion to make.

Anonymous said...

if you look at weight adjusted 2k and 6k scores lightweights can be and usually are faster than openweights.

Anonymous said...

i'm a lightweight and i eat whatever i want too. everyone just needs to relax and eat some food.

daryl traveston said...

Sometimes I question whether it is futile to engage in discourse with certain people, due to the lack of reasoning skills expressed in their own arguments. However, I couldn't help myself to one of the recent comments in response to my earlier statements about competitiveness between open weights and light weights.

" Anonymous said...

if you look at weight adjusted 2k and 6k scores lightweights can be and usually are faster than openweights. "

Now when someone makes any argumentative statement, I would hope that they had thought about the implications of it, and whether such a statement was rational given the implications. Sadly, "anonymous" doesn't hold herself (an assumption i admit, could be a he, but easier for semantics) to this most feeble standard of reasoning.

Now I can see only two possible implications of the statement above, neither of which I think "anonymous" would agree with. Firstly, lets say she is right, that women's lightweights have better erg scores for 2k and 6k using an accurate weight adjustment. Assuming that the weight adjusted erg is based upon converting to equivalent "in-boat" times due to weight differences (an accepted definition of weight adjusted erg), and stipulating that open weights are generally faster than lightweights (easily expressed in the CMAX rankings), one could only assume one or both of the following from this: 1. lightweight women must row much more poorly than open weight women, or 2. lightweight women must not try as hard as open weight women in the boat. I would actually suggest that each of these statements is fairly improbable. I would suggest a more likely possibility is that either the weight erg adjustment "anonymous is using is terribly flawed, or that she is simply wrong that lightweights "usually" have a better weight adjusted ergs than open weights. Sadly, I don't think "anonymous" would agree to either of those possibilities (her information/algorithm being wrong or lightweights being less tough or technically skilled, which in some ways is shocking given that they are the only conclusions you can make given her claims (I could actually come up with a couple more, but they generally fall in that improbable category).

Anonymous said...

Dear Marcus Ployster: what I, Anonymous, said regarding the one-on-one was truly confusing as I did leave out the fact that I was comparing 1X and 2X boats. The first and second place winners at 2006's Stotesbury Cup Sr. Women's 1X were lightweights.
Now I'm not sure what you meant about "sub-par"???? I thought we were talking about athletes? Show me a better athlete than a single sculler. Sorry, no one to rely on but yourself. Now that's not a true test of one's ability?

Aaron Benson said...

Food for thought regarding erg weight adjustments...

The best equation (called the classic formula) actually tends to favor midweights. This makes sense because of the normal distribution in the population. More midweights exist than lightweights or heavyweights, so the best rowers of the numerous middle group are comparatively better than the best of either less-populated extreme category.

Of course, on the water, equipment is not scaled properly for different weight classes, so the edge goes to the largest rowers. This is because they have the least mass of equipment to propel relative to the mass of the athlete(s) in the boat.

The question of who may or may not be more athletic is a separate issue. Embarking on such a debate is pointless, as it is unresolvable and inevitably degenerates into such silly unsupportable claims as can be seen in this thread. To quote a former professor: "I don't care what your opinion is unless you can convince me why it is right." Maybe I just like evidence-based argument too much.

PS- For those who missed the classic forumla in a post I commented on (and explained more thoroughly) some time ago, here it is again. Divide average power (Watts) by the mass of the rower (kilograms) to the 2/3 power:

Relative power = W / kg^(2/3)

Anonymous said...

I'm really not sure why we are wasting time arguing about which group of rowers is more legitimate or worth while. Lightweight or not, every rower on my team shows up to the same workouts everyday and works just as hard as the next. Being an excellent athlete does not mean that you win every time you compete or that you are the best at what you do. It simply means you are an excellent athlete-you show up, work hard, and lay down 100% of what you have, wheter that that 100% is less than or more that 130 lbs. The second fasted raw 2k time on my team was accomplished by one of the lightweights in my boat, and she is less than 10 seconds away from the fastest. Lightweight boats may or may not be able to be faster than heavyweight boats. That is not the question here. The question that should be looked at is this: "why are we even having this conversation?" A group of rowers put out a video they made for fun, and everyone gets their feather's ruffled. Support your team. Support your sport. Support eachother. Crew is the amazing sport that it is because there is a bond that is created when you race. In no other sport is teamwork so incredibly crucial. Think about that for a moment before you start bashing either group next time. We all get on the water and we all row 2000 meters.

Sam M said...

The only thing I have to say right now, is "AMEN TO THAT!"

I fully agree. There are differences between heavyweight and lightweight, yes, but you can't just say that one group is more competitive, or compiled of better athletes than the other. That would be like saying "all people to wear glassse are smarter than all people who don't."

a stereotype is a stereotype. the end.