Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy Holidays, Lightweights!

Ahh, back from Thanksgiving break. This time of year is horrible for lightweights. Horrible! What are the holidays about, other than making every half-baked enterpreneur rich and having to deal with the in-laws after they've put back a few too many eggnogs? Eating. Putting as much food in your gullet as possible. It's impossible to avoid it, but it's also impossible to avoid the guilt you feel after downing half of an overstuffed bird. So what's the moral lightweight to do?

-A Tofurkey! --
just kidding

-Row heavyweight --
I know the thought of getting in a boat with the fatweights is tough, but hey, maybe if you gave it a shot, you'd be able to appreciate all the work you put in to make lightweight that much more

Cosmetic surgery -- how much can an arm really way, anyways? And now that adaptive rowing is a paralympic sport, the possiblities are endless!

-Time-honored fallbacks --
trashbag suit erging, saunas, to your friend who wrestles

Whatever you choose, have a safe and fun winter season!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Erg Test

"No matter how well you know the course, no matter how well you may have done in a given race in the past, you never know for certain what lies ahead on the day you stand at the starting line waiting to test yourself once again. If you did know, it would not be a test; and there would be no reason for being there." - Dan Baglione

Today was our last 6K of the season. I hate erg tests, I really do. There's something about them, it just makes me fall apart a little bit inside every time. In high school, I used to act and sing in plays and with the choir, and the nerves that come with having a solo or a monologue on stage really don't even compare to the nerves I get before an erg test. I don't really know why that is; probably because I know that with a piece of music or theater, I have the confidence in myself that if I rehearse it enough, I won't screw up. I can't screw up. Maybe I haven't gotten to that point with my physical abilities on the erg, but I just can't go into an erg test with full faith that my mind won't let my body quit. I haven't died on a 6K yet, but every one I've pulled I've really wanted to, and fighting through that feeling was the worst thing ever.

Part of the problem with my erg tests was that I never really tried to maintain a consistent split before; I would do a mini-fly-and-die, going out a little high for the first 1000m or so, and then my splits would rise up for the most part until about 1500-1000m to go, and then they'd drop drastically. I tried getting a .0 for the average split and then holding that for about 5500m, and it was a lot easier than my previous approach. So remember kids, consistent splits!

Just one more random thought: isn't it weird how slow the first 4500m goes? And then how fast the last 1500m goes? Weird.

By the way, I PRed by 9 seconds :-)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Title IX

I was reading a news article on about a master's woman who learned to row at Ithaca prior to Title IX and the changes that it brought about to women's collegiate sports. In it, the woman talks about the challenge of being a club sport, namely the lack of funds. For those of us who row for club programs, scrounging for equipment, being 5-7 years behind the technology curve, having hand-me-down oars and boat parts is nothing new.

But now, over thirty years after Title IX was first implemented, the gender of the club teams have changed; now it's almost impossible to find a school with a men's varsity crew and a women's club crew. I can say that I've never come across such a school. I wish I could recall how many times my teammates and I have joked about taking away the football team and making the men's crew program a varsity sport. Rowing out of the same boathouse as a funded women's rowing program, it is a constant thorn in the side to see the women take for granted their top-of-the line rowing shells, bussed transportation to races and practice, and the infrastructure that goes behind supporting them on the college campus. Bearing these burdens quietly, I must imagine is like the women of thirty years prior to today, paying for everything that we use, from unis to boats, fundraising to pay our way to regattas and to have a coach, and to drive ourselves to practically everything: regattas up to five hours away, practice to the boathouse 15 minutes from campus every morning, and even winter training in Florida.

Before I proceed any further, let me explain that this is not in any way a rant to discredit Title IX, or women's athletics as a whole. The intentions behind the act are completely good; I understand that. I enjoy watching women's crew, and I don't think anyone should have limited access to the sport due to gender.

However, it feels that the times have turned; the theoretic "equality" that exists in athletic departments is not really equal at all. In the time that Title IX has existed, it has practically reshaped the landscape of collegiate sports. I did a little searching, and I couldn't find one state university with an equal number of men's and women's sports, let alone a college with more men's sports programs than women's programs. None of the state schools I looked at, most in the Atlantic Coast/New England region had this trait; indeed, out of all the Ivy League schools, schools known for affluence and a budget the envy of every public university, only two can field more men's teams than women's teams (Harvard and Penn).

In reaction to this, most men's sports, instead of becoming inactive on campus, have been filed under the "Intramural and Club Sport" label. Among some of the clubs sports that had long traditions of being varsity sports on college campuses include men's lacrosse, rowing, fencing, volleyball, wrestling, water polo, etc. While I would not be in favor of slashing women's sports programs to bring these sports back to a varsity level, I feel that as a whole, the club system (with exceptions) limits the heights which athletes can achieve, which is a bad thing for sports across all levels, not just men's athletics. But irregardless of the negative effects which this system has on the development of amateur sport in America, is it now fair to make men pay reparations for the actions of the past?