Again, what the other regions do is interesting, but not particularly relevant. I think it is a good thing that we aren't teaching kids to be specialists and are teaching to both sweep and scull, row small boats, row big boats, etc. They are kids and they should be building as big a skillset as possible. The region that does things the most like us is the Southwest, and they have a schedule very much like ours. Just a few more clubs, and just a few less races.
Having more boats in an event doesn't make it more competative, it just makes it bigger. Boats that don't stand a chance of being in the finals let alone medalling don't make it more challenging for the medalist. By having fewer event choices, you force kids into a race where they have no chance. That isn't a racing opportunity, it is a rowing down the course opportunity. Heck, they may not even get a chance to race that one crew they've been trying to catch because that other crew might be in another heat.
Our event selection allows kids to row in events with kids of similar accomplishment. I think that is a good thing. If other regions are more "professional", I don't think that is necessarily a good thing and we shouldn't emulate it.
You spoke about being fair to the majority of the region. What exactly is the majority of the region? If five clubs have a total of 150 kids and two clubs have 250 kids, what's the majority? Being at a large club, I have kids who will never do more than watch a YNC qualifier event. Should I throw them under the bus?
The trick of this whole thing is to try to serve the broadest constituancy possible. Big clubs, small clubs, novice rowers, potential national champions. I think we do that pretty well. Heck, the fact that almost every club can find something in the schedule that doesn't work that well for them is an indication of that.
I can state with certainty that the region is changing. However, it is changing gradually, and I think that our regional championship should change the same way - gradually to suit the evolving needs of the region - all of the region not just the small boat rowers at the small crews.
I agree that gradual changes are the best and safest for ensuring a managable regatta. The things I am proposing do not need to be enacted all at once. It could be accomplished over a number of years. For example, for this year, we could elimate a few undersubscribed events, and choose one YNC event to test out a full progression system with.
I need to emphasize a very important part of our proposal that will show it is equally good for all programs and all levels of athletes. Our race progression includes having petite, C, D, and E or however many finals necessary to give every kid a race in a 'final' against boats of similar speed. This gives every kid multiple races in a single event during the weekend, and as the regatta progresses, they truly race boats of similar skill and speed to their own. This allows MORE competition among the 3Vs, for example, because they will have the opportunity to match up against Varsity or JV 8s from smaller programs that may be of equal speed, but currently aren't allowed into the 3V category. It also gives the 3V kids a feel for what a race progression is. In my program, the 3V is a development boat--they are usually younger kids that want to improve and maybe someday race in a YNC boat. Every single crew will get a 'rank' at the and of the year, and then they can work to improve on that the next year. If we wanted, we could even award the '3V' trophy to the winner of the C final.
The drawback from this is that it takes a lot of time in the regatta. The solution is that coaches will be more likely to enter athletes in only one event, given that this guarantees them 2 or 3 races over the weekend, no matter how poorly they fare in their heat. Another option would be to enact a one-event limit.
A one event limit would not mean that we cannot teach kids how to row a variety of boats classes and events. This is up to the coach to decide how they spend their time in practice. There are plenty of races earlier in the season to 'experiment' and learn new skills; a Regional Championsip should be a place to perform in the boat that you have decided to train in the most.
However, there are enough 'slots' in the YNC events, that if a team entered every single event once, you would need 40 athletes! I don't think very many clubs, even the biggest ones, have 40 varsity rowers in one gender. Therefore, it's possible to enter every single YNC event. Sure, not every kid would medal and go to Nationals, but that's how a championship regatta works. Most of my team will never go to YNC (in fact a much smaller percentage of my team attends each year than at a larger club), but that's okay. Success for them is doing their best, not neccearily getting a medal. This is a value that I like to teach.
Also, the Southwest does not have 3V events, besides the 8+, and has very few JV events. Many kids down there race only once. It is not a perfect system, and this is why I have proposed a full race progression for every athlete for the Northwest.
Hey Steve and others,
I'll try to limit my comments to the duration of halftime.
First, I see that I'm a little late to the party and that there has been a lot of disucssion of this topic on the discussion board - http://pub44.bravenet.com/forum/static/show.php?usernum=3768885695&frmid=684&msgid=1095815&cp=1&cmd=show. I post these comments there as well.
As for comments:
1. The net result of this radical schedule departure and reprioritization is to marginalize the 3v, 4v, 2N, and 3N rowers of the region. I can't support that. It also removes a lot of choice from the 1V, 2V, and 1N rowers, like racing in more than one event. I can't support that either. The only outcome I see from this schedule is the same winners in the same events with a lot more people who had no chance to honestly compete against them in the first place.
2. I think we need to focus on best serving the kids in our region. Other regions have different ideas about how to do that with their kids, but that doesn't mean we should do what they do.
3. One of the reasons behind our current system of one entry in 1V-4V events is to allow maximum regional participation in Cinci. In 2002 the GLC boys went first in the 8+, first and second in the 4+, 4x, and 2x. Back then only the top two spots were invited to Cinci, which means that the NW had very light participation at nationals that year. Our current system has allowed a much broader participation at nationals and allowing multiple entries from a single club in YNI events might change that.
4. Another benefit of our current schedule: kids can row two events. Big boats and small boats, sweeping and sculling, kids from the NW can get a taste of it all, if that is their coach's choice. College rowing may all be all about the 8+'s or rowing one event, other regions may be all about that too, but we don't have to be and I'm glad we are not.
To be clear - I'm very proud that our region provides the variety of racing opportunities that we do. More would be better, not less.
5. "The value of a medal is severely diminshed when an event is undersubscribed"? Perhaps, but only when there is not speed pairity between the entrants. Speed parity provides true racing and valuable achievements. You don't have to believe me, just ask some of our local Olympic Champs from the women's 8+ in Beijing. Only 7 boats entered the event, but I'm pretty sure those gold medals don't feel dimished to Mary Whipple or Anna Cummins.
More to the point, I know my kids feel pretty accomplished when the earn a gold from regionals. They also feel good about a hard fought silver or bronze or fourth place when they take their best shot after a season of preparation against a crew they are close to speed pairity with.
I'm not interested in taking that away from them - not from any of them.
See you next weekend,
I've been following the discussion now for a couple of weeks, and thought I would speak on behalf of a smaller club in the region.
I 100% agree with Coby. Whether you are a small or large program, the racing has to be about the kids. We had a very positive experience at regionals last year. I appreciated the fact that I was able to race my kids in multiple events whether that was sweep, sculling, 1V or 2V- and feel that they were placed in events where the level of competition best fit them. Athletes in larger programs need to have that same opportunity.
Also, if the proposed schedule is adopted, I am not sure that the quality of racing would improve. Referencing Jason's message earlier, with heats, reps, semis and finals, most athletes would be racing 7 times in one weekend. That is a lot of racing! Would their level of fatigue effect the outcome? I'm not sure.
As for the diminished value of the medals...I don't know where that is coming from. We had athletes medal for the first time in a 5 year rowing career last year. It didn't matter to them if there were 4 entries or 12, all that mattered to them was the fact that their hardwork all season had payed off.
Bottom line, I strongly believe that this is a regional championship over a YNC qualifier and we are obligated to offer events at every level of competition.
See you all next weekend,