Yesterday, a local radio host insulted a sport that 99% of the general population does not even remotely think about. He contested that rowing is not a sport because you "sit on your ass and go backwards." Now, many members of talk radio and especially this particular one are prone to make statements without any knowledge of the subject because they feel they are important enough to have the opinion off the top of their heads be heard by the masses. I happen to fall into that 1%. I was a rower in college and coached both high school and college rowing for two years after that so I took it personal when this windbag insulted the sport that means so much to me.
I thought immediately I would make this post about my feelings about rowing. Perhaps enlighten whoever came across this our blog to how much dedication it took to be a rower, how close I was with guys that I rowed with or coached, or how despite being an ignored sport rowers are some of the best athletes in the world. I could have gone on and on, it would have perhaps been our longest post ever. But then I thought that was the wrong way to go about it. Those stories deserve to be told; the story of Lance Armstrong attempting to take up rowing in Austin, Texas to stay in shape but quitting soon after because he thought it was too difficult. But they cannot be told in a tone of one attempting to prove to some shithead with a microphone that has no concept of what athletic competition is about because he will never know what it takes and probably does not care. He does not care about a member of the 2004 gold medal team in the men's eight that was a firefighter who was there at ground zero and had nightmares with only the drive of winning an Olympic gold medal fueling him. So I will not digress into that.
Rowing has its place in the world and it is very small and only for a people willing to put themselves through it. I used to take insults on the sport a lot more seriously, like when I was reading Bill Simmons years ago and he took a shot a rowers. Now here is a guy that screams Boston favoritism and in virtually every post alludes to his beloved beantown yet he puts down a sport that in that town is one of the few places in the country it is valued. I wrote him what was assuredly too lengthy an email about why I thought he was wrong to make that comment. Surprisingly I never heard back. The point is that it is no use trying to defend something most people have never experienced. I know, my old rowing buddies know, but others never will and I cannot hold that against them. Unless they act like jackasses about it, like our friend.
So when this jackass of a radio host or others like him voice their opinion I have to let it slide. Besides, this guy spouts off a slew of idiotic things everyday so it is not like it is out of the norm for him. I am not going to say I will boycott the show because it is the only show on locally at that time and I like to listen to sports radio when I workout in the afternoons. He loves to cover golf and I believe even played it in college and also loves buttering up to NASCAR(sitting on your ass and moving forward?) people he has on his show. Well let's take a look at a few examples:
Top-level rowing athletes:
Top-level NACAR driver:
A horrible spectator sport it is, a largley ignored sport it is, a misunderstood sport it is but still a sport. If you enjoy reading, I recommend The Amateurs by David Halberstam. It gives you a glimpse into the world of rowing and is a very captivating and easy read.