Rowing Scholars Going Across The Pond

It seldom happens that the sport of rowing gets any coverage in the non-rowing media unless a small newspaper writes about a local rowing hero’s success on the river or the race course, or some of the major British newspapers, for example the Daily Telegraph where HTBS sometimes gets some stories, writes about the British National Rowing Team. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I came across a rowing article in the renowned magazine The Economist on 7 January.

But let me get this straight from the start, because while I find the topic of the article, the transatlantic traffic of rowing scholars, mainly between American universities and British universities, very interesting, it was sad to read the unsigned article in The Economist. Without doubt is was fairly well written, as one might expect of this magazine, but the research for the article was terribly poor.

To give you some examples: I do not understand why the author of the article compares The Boat Race and its crews on the River Thames in London with the Head of the Charles’s competitors, instead of the oarsmen racing against each other on the Thames River in New London? Surely, it is fairer to compare the Oxbridge boats with those of Yale and Harvard? Although, when the Oxbridge coaches have four boats to fill, two A-teams and then Isis and Goldie, the coaches at Yale and Harvard have each three boats to spread their oarsmen in.

The author’s statement that “A small country [Great Britain] is pulling well above its weight” sounds odd as he (let’s presume it is a man!) then writes that “British rowing is not up to much.” Right now, “the small country” actually has some of the best oarsmen and -women in the world! The American male rowers’ poor performance at the Olympics (and the latest World Championships), that the author brings up in his article, is not mainly because their programme lacks money, I believe there are bigger problems than that! The inadequate description of American crews and British crews performances at Henley which the author offers in The Economist article I will not comment upon, but I beg you readers of HTBS to not only read the article in The Economist, but also to read some of the intelligent comments made by others, all rowers without doubt…

You will find the article here.

One comment

  1. I also happened across this article when looking for rowing related news a week or so ago. While it is nice that 'The Economist' focusses on rowing, I too find the article poorly researched. For rowers in the Netherlands it is amusing to see a relatively small, rural university such as Maastricht getting a mention in an article that discusses high-stakes regattas such as the Boat Race and the Head of the Charles. If a comparison to the situation in The Netherlands is appropriate — which I doubt — it would have been better to refer to larger and more prestigious universities based in Amsterdam, Utrecht or Leiden.

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