The Boat Race – A Total Loss

I just finished watching The Boat Race.

If you missed it – a swimmer was in the water past the halfway point and the race stopped.  It took at least 20 minutes to get restarted.  Shortly after the start the two boats collided and the oar of an Oxford rower broke.  Cambridge went on to win the race.

This is a huge disappointment for everyone.  All the training that went into this event is lost.  Oxford didn’t have the chance to compete with their full effort.  Cambridge will forever have their win tainted by the fact that their competitor (who was the pre-race favorite) was eliminated from the competition.  No winners.

My first complaint was the tendency to call the swimmer who disrupted the race a “protester.”  Protesting what?  I didn’t see a sign?  I saw a big smile on his face.  Watch some of the real protests in Southern Europe or Middle Eastern countries and you don’t see big smiles plastered on their faces.  Unfortunately, idiots arrive at random and you can’t always predict them.  But don’t put them in the class of Martin Luther King or Gandhi for randomly floating in a river.

I know some people will say that Oxford got what they deserved because they were crowding Cambridge after the start (or – at least the ref was screaming about this.)  But either oar could have been broken, and the race was restarting into a curve in the river on choppy water.  To say they “deserved it” is just vindictive wrapped in an appearance of “karma”.  Sorry, I have no respect for that statement.

The ref was in an impossible position.  If I caught the coverage correctly he was a former Oxford rower.  (update – I was wrong – he was a Cambridge rower) If he were to rule in Oxford’s favor he would be accused of favoritism whether it was justified or not.  He knew that.  People associated with either team shouldn’t be referees.  I expect they will fix that after the race.  I’m surprised they let it go on this long. Update: I checked.  Apparently they alternate between teams each year for umpires.  I would rather see a third party – but I understand why they do it this way.  Either way – I hate to see a race called by the referee. 

When you go for big money you are a slave to big money.  The race has obviously been merchandised and sold.  It is scheduled to take place on a certain day.  There is no way they would reschedule it.  The competition suffered.  Somehow how wish they would get together informally next week and race each other head-to-head with no one around.  Then they would know who won (then they could make a movie about it.)

Oxford wasn’t about to stop.  I understand this.  Internally this will be their victory.

Cambridge wasn’t about to stop.  Although I wish they had. I would have liked to see them pull off the course and walk away (or perhaps tossed an oar into the water.) .  To be honest – that is a lot to put on a young crew in unfamiliar circumstances.  Their victory is hollow – through no fault of their own.  It will always have an asterisk – and those familiar with the sport will always discount their accomplishment because they are familiar with the circumstances.

I’m looking for the winner here.  I can’t find one.  This has been a sad day.


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