7 Reasons Why You Should Try Rowing

7 Reasons Why You Should Try Rowing

Seven reasons why anyone who needs or wants to do a sport should check out crew.
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Rowing, I find, is a very underappreciated sport that most people don't know much about. So let's start out by defining what rowing is. Before I began rowing myself, the image that popped into my head when I heard "rowing" or "Crew", was, at best, a bunch of huge guys in a boat rowing a their butts off while someone sat in the front yelling "stroke!" every second or so. At worst, the image that popped up was just some salty old fisherman in a rowboat. I assume that most people, especially those of us in towns without school-organized rowing teams, think of rowing and think of these images. So let's set the record straight:

Rowing, or crew as it's sometimes known, involves a number of people, from one to eight, performing the rowing motion in sync. There are two types of rowing: sculling, where each person has two oars, involving boats that seat one, two, and four people; and sweeping, where each person has one oar, involving boats that seat two, four, and eight people. Sometimes a boat may have a cox (you're allowed to giggle), who, instead of rowing, steers the boat and directs those who are rowing. In boats without a cox, bow seat (the seat furthest to the front) does the cox's job. It is much more common for sweeping boats to have a cox than it is for sculling boats, and eights always have coxes.

As for the motion of rowing, here's a GIF to demonstrate:


Not how you pictured it right? I was certainly surprised when I found out what it actually looked like. Ideally, this is what rowing is, but this guy is a beast who makes it look easy, so novices shouldn't expect to look like this immediately.

So now you know a little bit about the sport of crew. But why should you look into rowing? Well to start out:

1. You get fit AF

Check out the thighs and arms on these guys. Granted, they just won the gold medal at the London Olympics, but even for a novice, rowing is an excellent workout for most major muscles and muscle groups, as well as being some of the best cardio you can get. Add in that a typical competitive team practices for at least two hours four times a week, and you have a recipe for burning some serious calories and building some serious muscle.

2. It builds character



Rowing has changed my outlook on life in more ways than I can count, and I know many rowers who say the same thing. I am a harder worker, a better teammate, and a more stable person than I was two years ago, before I started rowing. At the risk of sounding cheesy, crew has made me who I am today.

3. Height/weight/body type will not decide if you are good or not

OK, so this might be a little untrue. It is generally true that tall, slim people dominate the upper echelons of rowing (just watch the Olympics or the world championships). However, it is effort, not shape or size, that decides how good of a rower you are in the end. I have won races against boats with people twice the size of my teammates, and I have lost to people smaller than I am (I'm about 5'9). I'm not saying you can be 5'2 and win every race if you practice more: I'm saying that it is possible to be 5'2 and win, and that you can be 5'2 and still have a great time. Also, for you really tiny, really light people, you can become a cox, and believe me, coxes are at least as respected as anyone who pulls on an oar.

4. You can chose how you row

Not much of a teammate? Row a single! Love the dynamic and intimacy of tennis pairs or synchronized diving? Row a double or a pair! Like being part of something big, and getting to know four to nine people? Row a quad, a four, or an eight! There is a boat for every kind of person, unless of course, you're the kind of person who doesn't like rowing.

5. You get to attend regattas


OK, I should probably explain this picture before I say anything else. If you win with a cox, its customary for rowers to throw the cox off the dock after you get off the water. Just one of the many fun things that can happen at regattas, the rowing equivalent of a track meet. There are vendors selling various cool rowing related items, teams from the surrounding towns and states, and usually plenty of good food. However, you are there to race. While it can be nerve-wracking waiting to race and disappointing if you lose, the fun usually outweighs the negative aspect. Plus, there's always a chance that you come home with a shiny new medal...

6. Colleges LOVE rowers

Its possible to get into some very good schools off of a rowing scholarship, as the above picture demonstrates. Because rowing is a sport most people start in college, rowers who are already experienced when they get to college are very valuable. If you're ambitious and talented, you can get recruited into legendary programs with ancient rivalries and storied coaches. Even if you don't end up getting recruited, or if you don't plan on rowing in college, rowing looks great on your transcript.

7. You make friends. REALLY good friends

When you join a club team or a rowing team, you get to know your teammates and coaches very well. After all, you might be spending 12 hours a week with these people. But by the end of the season, when all is said and done, your teammates, those you are in the boat with especially, are some of you closest friends. This fall season, I'm rowing in a quad, and although we've only competed in one race so far, we're already super close. In rowing, you can join for any number of reasons, but you stay for your team.

I row at Nereid Boat Club on the Passaic River in Rutherford.

Cover Image Credit: Clinton Rowing Club

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No, Helicopter High Schools, Not Every Cheerleader Should Make The Team

We can't keep babying this generation.
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If you haven't heard about it already, a high school in New Jersey made a rule that states every girl that tries out for the high school cheerleading squad has to make the team. If this doesn't scream spoiled with participation trophy at the end of it, then I don't know what does.

This new regulation was put in place after a mother of a girl that didn't make the cheerleading squad complained to the school.

Many young women who put in the hard work were clearly upset about this order. What they had to say made complete sense, but it didn't make a difference to the mother that so badly wanted her daughter to be a cheerleader.

One of the fellow cheerleaders said, "I did not put in 18 months of work to lead up to this moment just to be told that it didn't matter anymore." Another expressed, "It is unfair to me and every cheerleader who earned their spots to change the rules after tryouts are over." Although these statements are clear enough, one young woman was especially upset. As well as the other cheerleaders, she went up in front of the school board in tears and said "I've tried my hardest-- and everything's going away because of one child who did not make the team and their parent complained. So now all my hard work has been thrown out the window."

Cheerleading on top of other sports takes demanding hours not only physically but mentally and academically. In order to be a top athlete on any team, you must do what is expected of you and more. These young women have more than likely spent most of their childhood and the beginning of their adulthood training for this sport, why would someone want to take that feeling of success away from them? I'll tell you why.

Nowadays, if someone isn't treated equally (even if they don't have the talent, technique, or expertise) the world and media breaks down into shambles and turns into a soup sandwich. Teams, corporations, and groups have been destroyed in recent years because someone who did not get their way wants to complain, although they aren't qualified.

For any other sport, there are only so many spots for people to play on the team. If too many kids are allotted a spot on the team, then some children will have to sit the bench. This alone causes crisis within the team because players get upset when they aren't getting playing time and this all falls back on the coach.

Playing sports builds character, dedication, integrity and other great traits. The reason these characteristics are obtained is due to the time that young athletes put in. If they don't have to make sacrifices and devote their time then these features will never be developed. Aside from winning and the feeling of success and triumphant teamwork, establishing these qualities and reaching for excellence is the reason why children choose to play sports.

Athletes work hard to earn spots, be mentioned in the newspaper, win awards, and get recognition for all of the outstanding things that they do. These things shouldn't be given to people that don't work for them.

Participation trophies shouldn't be handed out like candy, parents need to stop babying their kids, and mom's and dad's need to prepare their children for the real world. If we let this ongoing trend keep multiplying within households before you know it everyone is going to feel like they are entitled to everything... as if they don't act that way already.

Cover Image Credit: Macey Mullins

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Why Alabama Is No 'Sweet Home' To Professional Sports Teams

Will the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. ever contemplate branching out into the deep south of Alabama to expand their programs?
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Going to the top college football school in the country, having pro teams within the state of Alabama wouldn't normally be a worry on most people's radar. Some sports fanatics, on the other hand, myself included, have always questioned why Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, has never even been considered in receiving major league sports teams.

Therefore, why has it never been proposed? Will the NFL, MLB, NHL, etc. ever contemplate branching out into the deep south of Alabama to expand their programs?

First thing’s first, are these major league teams actually necessary? With Alabama and Auburn being two of the top-ranked football schools consistently, locals have always been content with making the hike to Tuscaloosa or Auburn to watch a football game and let the rivalry continue to fester between the two SEC schools. Meeting Alabama fans or people who have lived here their whole lives, don’t really mind the issue and only really watch the NFL when they want to see the boys they have been watching over the years get drafted and see their progress.

On the contrary, when I wanted to go watch an NFL game this year, the closest games to Tuscaloosa are either in Atlanta to see the Falcons, which is 3 hours, or New Orleans to see the Saints, 4.5 hours. Needless to say, I’m sure it’s a pain for those football junkies who want to do the same. Another issue is, we can’t forget about the other sports besides football.

While down south, especially in Title-town, the only sport that matters is football, I’m sure there are some people who would love to watch Stephen Curry or Bryce Harper play in a live game, rather than having to settle for their TV screens all the time; but don’t get me wrong, we live and breathe college football.

There are pros and cons either way but there is a single factor that truly answers our question. Alabama doesn’t have the money. On one hand we’re not Mississippi, where they have a quality college team (Rebels fans would say otherwise…Roll Tide), pro teams, a large city, or the economic chutzpah; but the state and any of the cities Birmingham, Montgomery or Mobile don’t have the funds to sponsor a team or the facilities to host others.

Currently, Alabama is the most populated state that doesn’t house any pro teams, therefore if fans cross their fingers enough, we may be next in line, yet it’s not looking good. All the surrounding cities teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, New Orleans Hornets, etc. don’t have high attendance for the games. If this continues, it’s very unlikely Alabama will receive a pro team in the near future.

If people are just aching to get out of collegiate sports, which is not likely when you have the national champions in your backyard, there are the minor league and premier teams around the state, including the Birmingham Barons baseball, Birmingham Bull ice hockey, or AFC Mobile soccer.

Whether sports fans look at it as a good thing, or bad thing there is always room open for discussion, and I’m surprised ESPN or other sports talk shows have not picked up this topic for debate recently. It’s interesting to see people’s views on the matter, yet there is one thing that reigns true and is long lasting in the future, and that’s Nick Saban and Alabama football.

So for now, fans, put a smile on your face, stick to college sports, and keep screaming Roll Tide.

Cover Image Credit: Larry Miller / Flickr

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