Charles River Apparel CEO & President Barry Lipsett interviewed Daniel James Brown, the author of one his favorite books,“The Boys in the Boat,” the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 crew team and their pursuit for an Olympic gold medal in Berlin. Brown narrates the inspirational story of nine college students who beat the odds and captured the attention of millions of Americans as they went up against an elite British team and a dominant German team rowing under the eye of Adolf Hitler.
LIPSETT: Is rowing starting to make a comeback or do you think it ever stopped growing? Do you think the sport could ever become as popular as sports such as tennis or golf and what would the rowing community need to do to get it there in your opinion?
BROWN: Well, this is mostly conjecture on my part, but my guess is that more people row now than ever. Certainly rowing was much more popular as a spectator sport in the 1930s and 1940s than it is now. In those days seventy or eighty thousand people might turn out to watch a race on a Saturday afternoon here in Seattle. Now three or four thousand is probably a more realistic number. However, I think the trend toward personal fitness and healthy lifestyles that has taken hold in recent decades has transformed rowing from a major spectator sort into a major participant sport. As I have traveled around the country to talk about The Boys in the Boat I've been astonished at how many ordinary people now row and how may rowing clubs there are in America, even in places as unlikely as Arizona. I do think that with so many people participating there may be an opportunity to increase the visibility of the sport and get more spectators out to watch (and more media to cover) regattas. More on that in response to the next question.