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And The Winner Is? (redux)

(Here is an article I wrote for USRowing, published in 2000. I thought you might find some of the info applicable this week).

Let’s talk information.

If you haven’t been dozing at the rudder these last few years then you are probably astutely aware that this is the Information Age. A grand time to live, where you can find out which presidential candidate bad mouthed which governmental policy seconds after it happened. Where millions and millions of the most trivial facts are as close as your nearest CD player. And where Dr. Rowing can send you the recipe for his holiday Spam surprise from his Australian mountain top hideaway by just hitting a few keys on his solar powered computer.

Well, speaking of Australia, you probably have heard that there is this little event happening down there that is going to be of interest to most rowers. I’m talking about the Olympics, and in less time than it takes you to adjust your foot stretchers, the Games of the 27th Olympics will be underway. That means that U.S. crews will be sitting on the starting line, waiting for the “Attention, Go!” command. And that also means that you will be somewhere this fine September, looking for information about how the races turned out. So that brings us to the question of the day — have you figured out how are you going to get the results from this summer’s Olympics?

Haven’t thought about it yet? No worries mate, it is not too late. There are plenty of ways to get the results. The way that’s right for you will depend on a couple of things, mostly how fast you need to know who did what. Since our theme this article is information, let me give you some about the ways you can find out this summer’s Olympic rowing results. Let’s start with you folks who aren’t in a hurry and are thinking that . . .
I Don’t Need To Know Until The End Of September
If you are in no special rush to find out who was blazing fast, or glacier slow, then look no further than USRowing (the official publication of USRowing) for your Olympic regatta info. On October 20th the post-Olympic issue will be out with a 12 page spread of results and pictures, and an in-depth look at the U.S. rowing effort. And what better place to get rowing information than a rowing magazine.

And of course, don’t forget the old standby of rowing information, the Independent Rowing News (www.rowingnews.com). They plan on having their paper issue out with the latest Olympic rowing results on Thursday, October 5th.
I Need Them By The Very Next Day
Want the results a little quicker, do you? If opening up the morning paper and finding out what happened at the race course with your cup of cocoa is what you are after, then go get the paper. However, which paper you get will make a difference. Don’t expect your local weekly Garage Sale Gazette to have much of a spread on Don Smith’s rowing style. Grab yourself a newspaper that will focus on rowing.

The USA Today will carry rowing info, but because of the enormous amount of Olympic information out there, you most likely won’t see a lot of in-depth coverage on rowing. A better bet might be papers from rowing towns, like the Boston Globe or the Philadelphia Inquirer. They are bound to have quite a bit of rowing coverage, especially if any of the home-town folks are doing well in the competitions

I Need To Know By The End Of The Day
Are you the type that wants to know what happened by the end of the day? Then one of the quickest (and most comfortable) ways to get your Olympic info is to watch the races on the ol’ TV. Imagine relaxing in your own living room, sipping the chocolate milkshake that your butler has just brought you, watching the games. Problem with this scenario, besides spilling the milkshake when you doze off, is that you probably won’t see too much rowing on TV. NBC will be broadcasting hundreds of hours of Olympic coverage. However, of that wealth of coverage don’t expect to see more than a few minutes of rowing.

How much rowing actually makes it to someone’s TV screen depends on two things: how well the U.S. rowing team does, and how exciting the competitions are of the other sports that are going on at the same time as rowing.

For example, at the same time that the mens’ and womens’ rowing finals take place there are a bunch of competitions happening at other sites like: Beach Volleyball, Field Hockey, Softball, Athletics, Baseball, Table Tennis, Diving, and Weightlifting. If the U.S. rowers do really well, and Table Tennis, Softball, and Beach Volleyball are pretty boring, then you may see some TV coverage of rowing. However, if there are some really heated battles on the softball diamond, and the U.S. rowers aren’t performing well (which we know won’t happen) then expect to see more catches on the land than catches on the water.
I Want To Be The Very First In My Neighborhood To Know
Same day info not quick enough? Well then, how about real-time results? NBC is poised to offer some great info electronically on the sport that is dear to our hearts. Go to their web site (www.nbcolympics.com)  for immediate results, links to a wealth of other information about events there, and stories by some people who know what it takes to go fast. NBC.com also has a web page dedicated specifically to rowing (www.nbcolympics.com/?/basics/ro/index) with some background info and other tidbits.

There are several other web sites you can access to try to find results. FISA (www.fisa.org)., the international rowing federation, has their own official site. Chances are you can find what you are looking for there. Another site is the official English language web site for the Sydney games (www.olympics.com/eng/). Tons of stuff here, although there was not a clear link to results at the time of this writing Then, of course, there are your standard sources of rowing information on the web such as: irow.com (www.irow.com), row2k (www.row2k.com), rower’s world (www.rower’sworld.com), and USRowing’s own site (www.USRowing.org).

If you happen to be on the internet and want to do more than just get the results and, say, cheer your favorite rower on, you can send fan mail (www.fanmail.olympic.ibm.com). There you can send email to the Olympic Surf Shack (hopeful not an indication of the water conditions at the race course) where the athletes get a chance to hang out in a cyber pavilion and do a lot of electronic stuff. Chances are the athletes are going to be pretty darn busy, so don’t expect replies, but words of encouragement tend to be appreciated.

I Need To Know Now . . . Right Now!

And that brings us to you folks who can’t wait and need to know now! The absolute quickest way for you to get the Olympic rowing results is to actually be there, sitting at the finish line at the Penrith International Regatta Centre. By watching the score board you’ll know the leaders and 500 meter splits during the race, and as soon as the boats go zipping across the line you’ll know who won, and who did not.

Two little problems with this. First problem — getting the seats. Unless you already have your tickets in hand you might be out of luck. Seats for rowing usually go faster than Teti’s eight with a tail wind, and those tickets that are still available probably are going for about the price of a new boat.

Second problem  — you’ve got to get to Australia. That means a lot of traveling, about half way around the world to be exact. And that can be a long flight (an even longer drive) especially if you are sitting next to the grunge music group We-Ain’t-Bathed-For-Twenty-Years. No problem you say, smell doesn’t bother you and besides, you’ve got a lot of rowing books to read on the plane. Okay then, but  before you pull out the old Visa make sure you’ve got the cash to cover the trip. A round trip to Sydney is running about $2000. Not cheap, but look at it this way, at least you’ll be one of the first to know who won.

There you have it. A little planning, a little money, and you can find out what happened at the Olympics when you want to know it. Life in the information age is wonderful. Now if we can just use some of this technology to figure out how to get information from the coxswain to the bow-seat, we will really be getting somewhere fast.