Something about the nature of rowing tends to self-actualize people. Not everyone, but a good chunk of those who commit to the program. I think it's some combination of:
- The kind of people who enjoy waking up at 5am to work hard for something that will never make them any money.
- The massive time commitment (30+ hours per week) forces people to get their shit together.
- The ability to undergo extreme pain without showing it or complaining. ("Harvard doesn't care. Princeton doesn't care. Navy doesn't care.")
- Never making excuses. ("There's no asterisks in rowing.")
- The ability to recognize when a team is or isn't working together, and he ability to learn to take pleasure out of firing on all cylinders as a team. There is this feeling called Swing in rowing that's completely ineffable, but basically it's where the boat is moving faster than the sum of everyone's inputs. It's also incredible elusive, and you tend to spend 1,000+ hours per year for a chance to experience it for twenty minutes a year. But when you do experience it, it completely rewrites your model of effective teamwork.
- Develops the Buddhist concepts of right view and right intention, and the hindu concept of non-attachment to outcome. ("The Olympian stands alone.")
- At the same time, you learn to take pleasure in getting to go out and fuck up someone else's day.
Plus there are all sorts of aesthetic benefits as well. And the fact that rowers tend to be much smarter than the rest of the student body as well as athletes in other sports.
The Amateurs by David Halberstam -http://www.amazon.com/Amateurs-Story-Young-Their-Olympic/dp/...
The Shell Game by Stephen Kiesling - http://www.amazon.com/Shell-Game-Reflections-Pursuit-Excelle...
Mind Over Water by Craig Lambert - http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Over-Water-Lessons-Rowing/dp/0618...
Assault on Lake Casitas by Brad Alan Lewis - http://www.amazon.com/Assault-Lake-Casitas-Brad-Lewis/dp/188...
A Fine Balance (This is pretty much the best sports documentary ever) - http://www.jlrowing.com/dvdfinebalance.html
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