Joanne Jacobs links to this NYT piece about women's collegiate rowing. The number of women's rowing programs has burgeoned since 1997, in large part because rowing requires a lot of participants, thus helping to set off men's football scholarships for purposes of complying with Title IX's gender equity requirements:
''In the fall, rowing is a sport that you carry 70 to 80 people, then in the spring at least 46 kids get out and race,'' Ohio State's athletic director, Andy Geiger, said. ''It's an expensive sport, but it's worth it. It really does help offset football.''
Rowing has become a popular way to equalize any imbalance between men's and women's sports because it requires high numbers of athletes. A single varsity eight boat requires nine people: eight rowers and a coxswain, a small but vocal person who steers the boat and shouts commands.
Most teams have at least two eight-person boats on varsity and two more on the novice team. Many crews also have four-person boats, which carry four rowers and a coxswain.
Joanne takes umbrage with the fact that women who have never rowed before can get full scholarships, while many men's programs are underfunded. While I agree with Joanne that it's unfair that some women's rowing programs have lavish budgets while the men's program has to raise its own funds, I think she's missing what's most positive about the piece (besides the fact that many more women are getting to go to college for free and becoming physically fit (really, really fit; crew's not for wussies)): universities are adding women's varsity programs instead of eliminating men's varsity programs to comply with Title IX's proportionality requirement. For many years, Title IX failed in practice because it did not increase athletic opportunities for women and instead decreased them for men. The pendulum appears to be swinging the other way now, and that should be applauded.