The Malcontent on: Rowing


By James Mckean

‘How’s W2 getting on?’ ‘Fine, how’s M1?’ ‘Great, how are the ergs?’ ‘Oh, just working on cores, you know, how was the race?’ ‘We got bumped.’ ‘Oh, that’s sad.’

Yes, it is sad. But rowing’s more than sad; it’s also the most infuriating activity ever conceived. Have you ever had to share a table with rowers discussing rowing? It is a sign of how vacuous their pseudo-sport is that they feel compelled to invent a whole new language to go with it. Well, guess what? M1 isn’t a boat, it’s a motorway. You didn’t catch a crab, you stuck your oar in the water. Yes, that’s right. Oar. Not blade. The difference is that an oar is an antiquated form of propulsion, and a blade is a sharp, metal object that I fully intend on embedding in your stomach. Let’s see how well your spandex dungarees fend that off.

How can we claim to be a ‘modern’ university, whilst expending so much money and effort on an activity rendered obsolete by the invention of the sail five thousand years ago? Rowing has no skill to it, just strength and timing – a robot could do it. Of course, you might point out that numerous sports are equally simple – running, for instance. But running is a useful. If I were being chased by a velociraptor, chances are I would run away. I certainly wouldn’t pop over to the river, summon some friends, get a boat down, remove my shoes, carefully tread into the thing and then row away. (Provided, of course, it hasn’t rained lately and there’s a red flag. Because we all know how dangerous too much water is… for a boat.)

Most of you rowers only started in Michaelmas; you’re hardly Matthew Pincent. Stop moaning about blisters and early mornings; no-one is forcing you to dress up like a child predator and prance up and down the river all day. Don’t act superior; Roy Hodgson’s platoon of apes play a sport more complex and interesting than yours. I am fat and lazy, but I could go quicker with a piece of wood and a sail. My pet goldfish, A A Gill, can go faster than you, and he lives off orange flakes, not towers of pasta on crew table. So, please, enjoy Summer Eights. May you return bruised, battered, and so sunburnt you look like David Dickinson in a deep-fat fryer.

And, on an unrelated note, excuse me; I must dash. Got some WWII sea mines to deliver to my old friend, Trenton Oldfield. Enjoy bumping those.


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