Winning on the water-a book review of Boys in the Boat

Why do we like books and movies about sports? Have you noticed how many sports stories there are? (This post offers multiple affiliate links to sites that offer a commission to this blog for purchases made there.)

Some sport stories are about fictional characters and situations-

  • Rocky
  • Field of Dreams
  • Bleachers
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Million Dollar Baby

But the ones that most catch our attention and our hearts are those about real people.

  • Seabiscuit
  • Chariots of Fire
  • A League of Their Own
  • The Blind Side

Rowing- athletes in a boat

Most of us know something about the big sports, like football, basketball, and baseball. We probably know less about horse racing, boxing, track, and ice skating. But rowing , rarely if ever on the sports pages or television broadcasts, isn’t one most of us know at all.


The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz. Based on interviews of him by the author, we learn Joe’s painful early family life, struggle to pay for college, and the grueling physical challenges of preparing for competitive rowing.

At that time the sport of rowing was dominated by the sons of wealthy families and the Ivy League colleges they attended. By contrast, the University of Washington athletes who made up the 1936 Olympic rowing team came from working class families and had to work their way through college. That they did so in the midst of a depression makes their achievement even more remarkable.

You may be surprised to learn how much the sport of rowing physically and mentally challenges the human body. To be competitive, the crew’s eight rowers must work synchronously as the leader, known as the coxswain, calls out commands to set a pace that is fast enough to win but sustainable for the length of the race.

Nazi Germany’s Olympic games

Interspersed in the boys’ stories, Daniel Brown outlines the events unfolding in Germany, as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power. As part of their plan to dominate Europe and eventually the world, they plan to make the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin a showcase of German wealth, knowledge, power, and athletic ability. Specifically, Hitler hoped the German rowing team would beat England and Italy, the teams historically likely to win. The story of his reaction to an American team that not only challenged but upset the status quo completes a book worth reading.

My reaction to Boys in the Boat

From reading this book, I gained an appreciation for this sport that I previously knew nothing about. My husband and I listened to the audio book while on a 12 hour car trip and it kept us interested and entertained. We were inspired by a story where perseverance, courage, loyalty, and commitment were celebrated and rewarded.


This story proves history lessons aren’t dull, boring, or outdated, but can offer us information and inspiration to help us explore the HEART of health

the BOYS OF ’36 documentary

A PBS video documentary The BOYS OF ’36 is available on Amazon Video, free with Prime or available to rent.

Your comments welcome

If you read the book or watch the video, please contact me with your thoughts. I might use your comments in an update.

Thanks for visiting Watercress Words; I’d love for you to follow-use this form to get email alerts when I post something new. about the HEART of health.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Life lessons from Team USA

This month on my social media sites I’ve focussed on health and medical agencies of the United States government, in honor of  our July 4th Independence Day celebration . In this post I want to highlight Team USA, the Olympic and Paralympic athletic organization.

Did you know Team USA is not  a government organization or agency? According to the United States Olympic Committee  (USOC) website, Team USA is

“a federally chartered nonprofit corporation and does not receive federal financial support (other than for select Paralympic military programs). Unlike most other nations, the United States does not have a sports ministry.”

“The USOC has two primary responsibilities in its oversight of Olympic and Paralympic sport in the United States.

  1. to generate resources in support of its mission, which is to help American athletes achieve sustained competitive excellence.
  2. to ensure organizational resources are wisely and effectively used to that end.”

I toured the United States Olympic Training facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Both Olympic and Paralympic athletes train and live here.The facilities are state of the art, modern and open to the public for visits and tours.

In this post I’m sharing my tour with you.

The Ancient Olympic GAmes sign

brief history of the Olympic Games

 

 

As much as I admire the elite athletes who comprise the Olympic team, the Paralympic athletes captivate my imagination.

 

These athletes  compete with, not  despite, significant physical impairments. Many of them play and compete in physically demanding sports without full use of their arms and legs; some don’t even have all of their arms and legs.

As we walked around the complex on a guided tour, I was reminded of the importance of physical activity for our physical and mental health.  Although there is a lot of conflicting advice on preventive health, all experts agree that physical activity is vital to achieving and maintaining optimal health and well being.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans call for

moderate-intensive physical activity for 150 minutes or more per week,

vigorous-intensity activity for at least 75 minutes per week, or

an equivalent combination of the 2, and

engaging in muscle strengthening activity at least twice per week.

 

  • Medical studies show that exercise can prevent or improve many chronic health conditions and lack of exercise contributes to many diseases.
  • Physical activity may reduce the risk of cancers of the breast, colon, uterus, prostate and pancreas.
  • Regular exercise may help prevent diabetes and heart disease.
  • Exercise relieves joint and back pain due to arthritis.
  • Depression is improved with physical activity .

 

As we walked through the  USA Shooting area I picked up a flyer titled “Winning Attitudes”, which I’m using as captions for  my photos. I hope they will encourage you to develop a “winning attitude” in all areas of your life.

Enjoy this brief tour through the Olympic Complex and if you go to Colorado Springs, be sure and visit; the cost is reasonable and worth the price.

Become excited, confident, and enthusiastic about your goals.

 

statue of four athletes jumping

 

 

True confidence is based on the thoroughness of preparation. 

Olympic work out room

 

 

 

 

 

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winners focus on solutions, not problems.

wheelchairs

wheelchairs adapted for playing

 

 

 

Winners have positive attitudes in all elements of their lives. The more you think about, talk about, and write about a thing happening, the greater the certainty of that thing happening.

vehicle

on display in the Hall of Fame

 

 

 

Goals should identify minimum performance levels. They should never limit your performance.

swimming pool

a real “olympic sized” swimming pool

 

 

 

Real winners are champions in life, not just in sports.

two champion athletes

Runner Tyson Gay and gymnast Mary Lou Retton in the Hall of Fame

 

 

 

Missing a goal means setting another goal to strive for.

gym

multi use gymnasium

 

 

A champion constantly learns and improves.

practice

words to train by and live by

C

 

 

Champions are willing to risk a little in the short run to gain an advantage in the long run.

Winners have the ability to look inside themselves and find that special dream. 

 

 

Excellence is achieved only through constant pursuit. 

DSCN1135

passing the torch

 

A champion constantly learns and improves .

housing.

The athletes live, eat, and sleep here.

 

 

Real winners are champions in life, not just sports. 

statue of four athletes raising arms

 

Don’t just achieve your goals; strive to exceed your goals. 

 

bronze statue, ice skater

 Are YOU a CHAMPION? 

Which of these “winning attitudes” do you live by? Which do you need to adopt?