Yes We Did

The so-called Newspaper of Record didn’t cover the story, not even in their self-styled ‘global sports‘ section.

For NYT, global sport consists of soccer/futbol; Formula-1 auto racing; golf; cycling; tennis; rugby … and cricket.  So, not a word in the Grey Lady this morning –not even from a wire service source–  about The (156th) Boat Race and its somewhat surprising outcome.

Instead, leave it to the French (via Agence France Presse) to report the story –and, along the way–  to find a plotline that twists the dagger in the heart of Dark Blues everywhere.   Yep, 2010’s Cambridge victory can be attributed to an American rower (nothing particularly new there) and to the inspiration of Barack Obama (who, though raised in Hawaii, may never have held an oar or outrigger paddle in his life).  Here’s how:

“Cambridge crew president Deaglan McEachern … who worked as an intern on Obama’s campaign, said ‘Yes We Can’ was his final message to his fellow oarsmen.  ‘I knew this crew had a chance to win and I told them to go out there and take it.'”

McEachern then went on to say, ‘The whole race is a confidence game.’

In the United States, that particular formulation might be considered an unfortunate turn of phrase in the aftermath of our recent CDO/CDS/Madoff meltdown, but on the Thames (as elsewhere on the water), it merely echoes Tug McGraw’s famous battlecry, “Ya Gotta Believe!”   Believing that you can endure and prevail is sometimes the only thing that will get you through a demanding practice or a difficult race.   You have to believe that you can do it, and you have to believe that your teammates can do it too.   Often, this requires a willful suspension of disbelief, because prior experience may well have demonstrated that either you or others in the boat will likely despair and crumble in the face of adversity.   So you can use that fear as a challenge to prove yourself wrong:   by directing overwhelming anger at that doubting inner voice, a rower can defeat defeatism itself.  Sometimes that gets you across the finish line first, and sometimes it doesn’t.   Ain’t no silver medal in The Boat Race.

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