Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On A Lighter Note

Some good quotes from Row2k columnist and coxswain Rob Colburn that I couldn't help but share:

"How do I keep my rowers from looking out of the boat and affecting the set? I keep calling them out, but they still do it.
Tell your boat what I tell mine: Every time someone looks out, I get to eat one of Ms. Quail's chocolate nut brownies. I figure I win either way.

As coxswain, am I empowered to perform weddings?
Technically, yes. (Be careful how you use this authority, though.) Per U.S. Coast Guard regulations, anything 60 feet or longer is legally a ship, and ship captains can perform marriages. (Shorter-hulled Resolutes, and 4+s may need to go out beyond the twelve-mile limit.)

My parents want to know how come -- if a crew race only takes about 6 minutes -- going to a crew race always takes up an entire day.
Erm, well..., we've got our best research team working on that."

Rallying Cry

For those of you who have been following the news on Row2k, the decision by Rutgers University to keep six of the Olympic sports on the chopping block despite the $3 million of pledges isn't much of a surprise. In addition to men's light- and heavyweight rowing, the school plans to demote men's swimming and diving, men's tennis, and men's and women's fencing from varsity status to club sports.

For the record, the entire operating budget for these six teams totals to about $800,000. The $3 million that boosters have raised alone could fund these sports for 3 and 3/4 of the next academic years. That means the programs could run from next fall to this time four years from now.

To put this in perspective, the annual operating budget of the Rutgers athletic department is $40 million. $40 million. The operating budget of those six sports equals 2% of the entire athletic department.

Where does the rest of that 98% go?

A majority of it goes to the Scarlet Knights' football program. Rutgers football went to its second straight Bowl game this past season, defeating Kansas State 37-10. Meanwhile, the football budget last year was $13 million. That's 32.5% of the athletic department budget for the year. The school has been arguing that with the increase of applicants to the University and the large incoming freshman class, some of that chunk can be made up through ticket sales at home games. How much money do you think ticket sales can make up over the course of three months of games? I wasn't able to locate figures, but I'm willing to be that it's not the $12,200,000 that would make up the difference between the football budget and the budget for these six sports that are about to be cut.

The bottom line for the decision-makers at Rutgers University is the fact that none of these sports are revenue-producing sports. Take a look at these statistics:
-women's fencing has the highest cumulative GPA of all varsity sports at Rutgers
-four of the five men's teams being eliminated have GPAs in the top five
-14 Olympians have come from Rutgers crew -- since 1992
-men's and women's fencing have produced 32 All-Americans and an NCAA championship in the past 20 years -- this was the only NCAA championship Rutgers produced during this period

In light of all these facts, the school's refusal to consider keeping these sports on with the offer of $3 million to support them from alums and other boosters is simply ridiculous. Legitimate budget shortages are unfortunate but understandable. However, this just stinks of something larger. As the premiere land-grant university in New Jersey, don't they have a responsibility to promote excellence in academics and athletics, even if the athletics in question don't produce a profit?

So now the rallying cry. I'm going to ask anybody who reads this blog to write to the movers and shakers at Rutgers. As members of the rowing community, we should all fight to keep venerable collegiate programs alive. They are as much a part of our sports' history as they are the university's. So write to some of the people listed on the
Save Rutgers Tennis website. Let them know that their decision is irresponsible and unjust for the athletes who race and play for the Scarlet Knights with little or no recognition.

The Daily Targum and

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Coming Back Like Jordan

To anybody who caught the Jay-Z reference in the subject line, good for you.

The weather has suddenly done a turn-around towards the whole "lamb" side of March. It was 54 degrees today, and it's supposed to be almost 60 tomorrow! I even wore flip-flops all day! It was very exciting.

To celebrate this change for the better, I decided I was going to go for a run after classes. I changed, stuffed my keys in my mailbox downstairs, and headed out the door. I headed towards the main road that would take me in the loop around campus. Inexplicably, however, I turned right instead of left, my legs leading me towards the gym where the men's crew equipment is stored. I couldn't help myself; if my back felt good enough to try running, then I must be well enough to give erging a shot.

I hopped on an erg and pulled a 30-minute piece, my first time sitting on one of those machines since mid-December. Three months away was a terrible thing; I was huffing and puffing after five minutes of a pace that was ten split seconds slower than my steady state pressure while I'm in season. The drag setting was around 120, yet it felt like the flywheel was cranked all the way to 10. But I suffered through the whole 30 minutes, feeling like a champion when the timer hit zero. I'm paying for it now; my back is sore and my arms ache. But it's not the same kind of pain that I've been experiencing lately, and it's good to know where I stand and what I have to do to get back in shape for the summer.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Up here in the still-frozen north, temperatures haven't risen high enough to enable on water rowing. My teammates are still land-locked, sweating their lives away on ergs while oarsmen further south and west are on the water, already racing. I won't be joining them this year, although I hope to get to a few races along the way.

It's funny. The more I'm not training for the spring, the more I think about it. When I'm churning out morning after morning of high-intensity pieces, I don't usually have the energy to contemplate it; the very act is inherently maddening enough that it makes contemplating unbearable. If I was training and concentrating on every little aspect of the race like I am now, I would probably end up burning out or quitting, the intensity of it is so great.

I have this image in my head, and I can't get rid of it. It looks like the intro to some kind of film. Opening shot is the blank surface of the water. Out of nowhere, an oar swings across from the top of the screen, mid-feather. It grabs the water at the catch, perfect backsplash. The video goes into slow-motion, arcing through the water in a perfect application of power, a bend in the shaft right up to the release.

Zoom out. The camera picks up with the movement of the shell passing by. As the boat fills the camera, more and more of the oarsman can be seen. He is poised, taut like a rubber band, ready to go off at the next catch. The boat runs perfectly set underneath his blade. As he rotates to take the next stroke, we finally see the face of the oarsman about to drive the eight forward. Usually, the face is mine, although it's not always the case. Onward with the next stroke; the camera continues zooming out until the entire shell is on display, eight bodies swinging as one, rotating in a clear line down the shell. It's a beautiful sight.