The Boat Race – A rant – Part 2

My little rant yesterday about the Boat Race has certainly created a bit of a stir with a load of favourites and retweets. I received a very interesting e mail as a follow-up from my piece and I publish it here as my first ever “guest blog”. The person concerned has requested to remain anonymous…..

I had already read this article [the Alice Arnold piece in the Telegraph] and wondered if I had picked up the wrong paper and was reading the Guardian
Firstly let me tell you a little about myself as I seem to know all about yourself from your numerous and humorous regular blogs  …. Born in 66 and raised on a council estate and purely by luck of having an Irish Catholic mother didn’t go to the local school that putting it nicely was an excuse for education for kids ……. Had to travel 14 miles to school and 14 miles back everyday to the only Catholic school in the area and thankfully still the most over subscribed school in the local area… Left at 16 with 8 “O” levels to start my apprenticeship (parents never offered me the option to stay on!!) and life just ambled along till I was 21 …. And then having got bored batting at no 5 for my local Cricket club decided to join the local rowing club  and found something that just made my world spin.
Have been enthralled by the sport since then and everything I am now I believe that I owe to the discipline that rowing gave me …. Still in contact with all the lads I rowed with (all the other sports I took part in I don’t really see anybody from) … I now have my own company and employ 8 people at the moment …….. And this is were my rant starts
What these people that slag of this once a year race don’t get is that this is just 18 people from a 2 of the greatest University’s having a private battle ……. What they don’t see is the 100s of small clubs where ordinary people are doing extraordinary things in helping 1000s of kids & adults take part in a sport that is still one of the only sports left that is untouched by money or cheating and still has a moral compass that is almost Corinthian in its thoughts
But more than the healthy life style and obsession that rowing gives them, its the life skills that I see that rowing gives people (they need to ask why public schools embrace rowing so much and I think they will find its more than just the sport but the mind-set it installs) ….. All these haters can see is the boat race and all I can see is a sport that shapes people into achievers and doers …. A sport that makes people realise that with hard work and dedication they can achieve something with their lives through applying themselves ……. A sport that turned my life around and has given me great memories and great friends …… A sport that has made both my boys knuckle down from an early age and accept the mind-set that if you want something then you have to work for it
How she has the idea that its elitist and irrelevant to those taking part and to the 1000s watching it dreaming that it could be them I would love her to tell them to there face …. Would she even be afforded the privilege to write for the papers if she wasn’t Clare Balding wife and was just someone that used to read of an autocue for Radio 4
I shudder daily at what I deem to be those that have influence (Alice Arnold) that almost seem to want to deprive those that are striving for something from having what they had. She went to a private school and then onto Sussex Uni and almost seems to have a hatred of anyone that has access to the privilege and opportunity that she has been afforded ………
She lives in Chiswick so only has to walk down to the river to see all that’s good about this sport or is it that one day a year her life is spoilt by hoards of pissed up people wearing two shades of blue in her neighbourhood that upsets her!!
That’s my rant over”

3 thoughts on “The Boat Race – A rant – Part 2

  1. Nosmo

    Excellent post.
    But: “A sport that is still one of the only sports left that is untouched by money or cheating.”

    Compared to big money sports yes, but there are a lot of minor sports with little money. In the US at least it is a sport for the privileged and moderately privileged. It is slowly getting a little better, but we have a long long way to go. I row in the heart of one of the most integrated cities in the US. All types of people walk around the lake but the rowers are 95% white.

    While there might not be large scale institutionalized cheating at the high levels, but I see no reason to believe that it doesn’t happen. There have been plenty of examples of people being caught cheating in other minor sports where money was minimal or nonexistent. I see no reason why rowing would be different. And talking to a few people who would have some inside knowledge, they believe it has happened. Fortunately it doesn’t effect the vast majority of us,

  2. Rob

    Ok, here’s the opposing ‘Rant’

    Yes, yes it’s a wonderful tradition, features an excellent standard of rowing etc, etc….

    But the main problem with the Boat Race – and it is a problem – is that it perpetuates the image of rowing as an upper class sport, undertaken by wealthy, highly intelligent (after all they got into 2 of the top 5 universities in the World), ex-Public School Boys (or the international equivalent).

    I’m not saying that you have to fit these criteria.

    I’m sure there have been many Boat Race competitors who don’t.

    But the majority of the competitors do and let’s face it, the naff interviews given before and afterwards, where arrogant condescension towards the TV presenters seems the norm, hardly help. Last year, Clare Balding was treated to a series of rude, monosyllabic answers in her pre-race interview by one the Presidents. Perhaps this is why her wife has a particular problem with the race? Just to be clear – I’m no fan of Clare Balding but I found that interview an embarrassment to the Sport.

    All rowers should ask themselves, how many state-school educated kids watching the Boat Race (if they bother) think to themselves, ” yeah, that could be me,” ?

    And by the by, the other problem is that unless you’re an aficionado, it’s just about the most boring race format imaginable. To a non rower, it’s exciting in say, one year out of 20?….and many people think that’s what all rowing races are like.

    1. fatsculler Post author

      regarding the pre-race interviews, I’m not too surprised they tend to be a bit monosyllabic, The nerves and tension must be unbearable for the Presidents…you are just about to start an all-or-nothing race for which you’ve been training for 6 months. I’m amazed they can say anything! Not sure what, if any, media training the guys get.


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