Tag Archives: sports

The Boys in the Boat: Derek’s Three Favorite Things

When I like a book I tend to rave about it. The Boys in the Boat was released in 2013 and as of June 2015, still sits on the NY Times non-fiction bestseller list. It will appeal to those that read Unbroken in awe and everyone else that enjoys well written accounts of amazing achievements and interesting times in history. The Boys in the Boat tells the true story of Joe Rantz and eight other unprivileged, hardworking boys from the University of Washington. They would eventually represent the United States in the eight man rowing competition at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin (where Unbroken subject Louis Zamperini ran the 5,000 meter race).

The 1936 United States 8 man Olympic rowing team. They ended their 4 year University of Washington collegiate career undefeated as national champions.

The 1936 United States eight man (+coxswain) Olympic rowing team. They ended their four year Univ. of Washington collegiate career undefeated and as national champions. (photo credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1936)

My favorite things about this book can be wrapped up into three buckets:

The Boys in the Boat1) It introduced me to rowing and piqued my interest in it as a form of exercise. Early in the book the author confirms that physiologists have calculated that rowing a 2,000 meter race — the Olympic standard — takes the same physiological toll as playing two basketball games back-to-back. I’ve  since added the rowing machine to my gym routine.

The cat and mouse dynamic of rowing races is also interesting and fun to watch. I’ve scoured YouTube for recent Olympic regattas as a form of entertainment.

2) Reading the book was a fun geography ride through the Pacific Northwest, notably Seattle and the University of Washington campus. The author describes in detail the key water ways and bodies that makes the Seattle area unique: Lake Washington, the Montlake Cut, Lake Union and Union Bay adjacent to campus. I was reading the book during a visit to the Emerald City, and I was so intrigued by the geography that I enjoyed a special trip to check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, a unique engineering feature on the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Lake Union is a beautiful freshwater lake entirely within the Seattle city limits.

Lake Union: a beautiful freshwater lake within Seattle city limits (photo credit: Jelson25)

Reading the book while visiting Seattle was a fun and appreciation-filled experience.

Reading the book while visiting Seattle was a fun and appreciation-filled experience.

3) Finally, The Boys in the Boat told a beautiful story about a man that suffered at a young age and prevailed, fulfilled and proud in the end, through hard work and an unwavering will to live. Many chapters of the book take place during Joe Rantz’s tragic adolescence after he was abandoned by his family in Idaho. After working his butt off, living alone and supporting himself through his early teenage years, Joe made his way to the University of Washington and eventually and serendipitously battled his way on to the well respected rowing team, with seven similarly hardworking boys. Compared with East Coast rowing royalty from schools like Princeton and Columbia, these boys worked there way through college, barely making ends meet. Rowing was their outlet and their teamwork and determination learned through hardship growing up, led them to become the best rowing team in the world.

If you’re intrigued by this story, you’ve now got two options. Read the book, or  watch this well-made book trailer:

(And in case you’re wondering, The Weinstein Company owns the film rights to the story and intends to produce a movie.)

Who to root for in the playoffs and Super Bowl?

It’s time that of the year again, playoffs today and the Super Bowl just around the corner. Last year I had a lot of fun Google Image Searching the quarterbacks for the top 4 NFL teams to help you decide who you should root for in the upcoming big games (because we all know you aren’t rooting based on talent or actual team preference, right?).

Let’s take a look and see who our choices are this year… (I’d say we got an upgrade over last year).

Brett Favre, Minnesota Vikings

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

Don’t forget to root for the Cardinals this weekend

This Sunday is the Super Bowl. I don’t know anyone that is a legitimate Cardinals or Steelers fan, so like I said before, do I plan on doing… root for the team with the best looking quarterback.

And this year, it’s a no-brainer. (Beth Roethlisberger? Ew.) Go Cardinals.

Who to root for in the playoffs and Super Bowl?

So. Maybe your team lost this weekend. Maybe they didn’t make the playoffs. Maybe you don’t even watch football. But you gotta have a team to root for this weekend… and during the Super Bowl, right? Otherwise you aren’t American. Can’t decide who “your team” will be? Well, do what I do. Root for the team with the best looking quarterback. I’m not going to tell you who to like… but I will give you your options. Decide for yourself.             (Go Cardinals!)

Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles Vikings Football



Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers


Chargers Steelers Football


Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens




Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals