Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Outcome

Rowing is a sport of traditions. A "gentleman's sport", there's no trash talking, showboating, taunting or any of the less than sportsman-like behavior that contaminates so much of modern American sporting spectacle. We may want nothing more than to crush our opponent by a humiliating margin, but that sentiment is undisplayed by word, and only in the deed of pulling on an oar.

And I like this.

Among the traditions is this: As tempting as it may be to toss your coxswain in the drink, this is not done. Unless you've just won. In which case it's a form of high praise and celebration.

In college, we won on a cold day over a school we were well expected to beat. In our naivete and out of kindness, we thought it best not to toss our cox in the icy water. He was prepared for us to exercise our right to throw him in, and nearly insisted on it: "It's an honor to be thrown in by your crew". We didn't throw him in. We lost for the rest of the season. Our cox continued to believe it was because we hadn't kept with tradition. The rowing gods must be appeased with sacrifice.

In my decade in this sport, I've come to know that it truly is an honor. We only dunk the ones we love, who call great races, who help us win.

With that, a photo of the engine room from my boat, and our cox, from last Sunday:

You know where he's going...

I'll give a blow by blow of the race when work settles. In one sentence: Single greatest athletic achievement of my life.