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The White Rock Boathouse Is a Good Thing

Before you all savage me in the comments, I do not know as much about this topic as Tim, Schutze, or a bunch of other reporters/writers in Dallas. I haven’t followed it too closely because, up until two weeks ago, I covered three municipalities that sit nowhere near the lake.

I do know about one thing that none of them do: high school rowing. I rowed in high school and college back east, first in New York and then in Philadelphia. I’ve rowed on the Hudson River, the Schuylkill River, the Charles River, and basically every river, reservoir, lake, or damned swamp between Boston and Nashville.

And you know what? It’s a pain in the ass to break down a boat after every race. Gotta pull the rigging off, gotta remove the seats, gotta strap it down onto the trailer. Probably takes a good hour each time, if you do it right. And without a permanent boathouse, Dallas United Crew is doing a bunch of those steps every day during the season.

Now let’s break down the racial component here. I’ve sat through a few meetings where opponents of the boathouse claimed DUC was essentially a white club, a lingering reminder of inequality because the majority of its rowers were from Highland Park. This, folks, is rowing in general. It was a sport of prep schools and private colleges, but has trickled down over the years, landing at my awful public high school in the 1950s.  As Tim pointed out last week, DUC has rowers from 25 schools and 26 ZIP codes. Are these kids mostly white? Probably, but the fact that Dallas is expanding the base of possible rowers by offering it to black, Hispanic, and Asian students far exceeds what most boathouses in this country look like.

Rowing taught me a bunch of things (teamwork, the importance of quadriceps, blah) but it mostly got me into some colleges I wouldn’t have gotten into otherwise. Let’s give some other kids a chance to fall up.

  • Dave

    Thank you Bradford for making sense. The fact that the team was HP Crew and now Dallas United Crew is all you need to know. It is OPEN to every student in the metroplex who wants to try out. Let’s give credit where credit is due.

  • Clay Drury

    Watch out Mr. Pearson. You may actually make some sense and we don’t do that around here.

  • Katy

    Arguing that rowing is a mostly-white sport and thus should not be supported makes about as much sense as arguing that basketball or football are mostly minority sports (they’re not necessarily…just an example of a common stereotype), but most would not argue that basketball stadiums or football fields should be built. Seems like a double standard to protest a boathouse because it’s associated with a so-called white sport.

    I heard this morning on the radio that scholarships are offered for anyone who can’t afford to participate (same as with a lot of other extracurricular activities). It seems DUC has done its due diligence to try to open up the sport to any who want to participate.

  • Mark

    Dude, you might want to start looking up big words like municipality before using them in sentences, especially when you snarked on someone for needing a copy editor less than ten minutes after posting this item.

  • BradfordPearson

    Mark, I covered University Park and Highland Park, two municipalities that don’t sit near the lake, and parts of a third municipality – Preston Hollow and Oak Cliff – that don’t sit near the lake.

    And I didn’t write the copy editing post.

  • BradfordPearson

    Mark, I covered University Park and Highland Park, two municipalities that don’t sit near the lake, and parts of a third municipality – Preston Hollow and Oak Cliff in Dallas– that don’t sit near the lake.

    And I didn’t write the copy editing post.

  • Gary McDonnell

    Thank you for a reasoned article Bradford.

    I have lived on the east side of White Rock Lake for over 50 years; my daughter rowed for DUC and is now a volunteer coach for the team’s new low cost middle school program. For those reasons and others I’ve been involved with the DUC boathouse project.

    While there’s certainly a number of people who had a knee jerk reaction to the boathouse (and who may continue to be irrationally opposed to it) you might be surprised how many of my neighbors are strong supporters. In fact, hundreds wrote letters and emails to our City Councilman (Sheffie Kadane) in support of the project. But those who oppose any improvements to the east side of the lake seem to make a lot more noise per person.

    By the way, if anyone doubts that the east side of WRL park is behind the rest of the park just take a ride around the lake. The east side from Mockingbird Lane to Sunset Bay infrastructure looks like crap compared to the rest of the park. Why? Because certain people in the nearby neighborhood continually bitch about every proposed park improvement nearby, behaving in such an obstructive manner that the Dallas Parks department staff just says to hell with it and uses the money and time where they’re welcome. Mind you, these people don’t invest any of their time or effort to develop alternatives to the plans – they just complain about what others have done. The result is that this part of the park has seen no real improvement in decades.

    There will always be people who oppose everything regardless of the facts and regardless of the benefits to others – even when there is no downside to them. In the case of the boathouse some of these folks have spread lies and false rumors and continue to do so. They have put up arguments they knew to be invalid (which they freely acknowledge in private conversation); they’ve gone from one complaint to the next as each complaint has been shown to be nonsense, and basically just refused to acknowledge any fact that they don’t like. And while everyone has a right to their own opinion, one doesn’t have a right to their own facts. Facts are facts.

    This behavior begs the question of “why do they do this?”. What I’ve determined is that it’s because these folks are elitists. They don’t want anyone else using their lake. They want to restrict others’ access to the park or just make it less appealing just so they can keep it for themselves. I call that elitism and I say it’s wrong.

  • Mark

    I love it when people are predictable.

    As I was posting the above, I thought “Mr. Pearson (or someone else) is going to respond to this and use Dallas as the third municipality.

    What I expect is that in your original post you misused the term. If you are now going to claim Dallas as your third municipality, please go back and read the original sentence and have it make sense.

    No, wait, I’ll try to do it for you.

    “I covered three municipalities that sit nowhere near the lake.” The three munis you want to now cite as examples are HP, UP, and Dallas.

    Is HP near White Rock Lake? Nope. Good.

    UP? Nope. Still good!

    Dallas? Well, it surrounds the lake, but maybe I can find a style guide or somesuch that asserts “is a part of” is congruent with “nowhere near”. I’ll get to work on that.

    WRT the Perot post, I should have realized it was Timmy without even looking it up. My bad.

  • Mark

    And BTW, Tim, posting in these tiny dialog boxes is dreadful. The instant I posted that last reply I saw I’d missed a close-quote. Hard to proofread.

  • Kk.

    My son rowed for this team for three years. It was hands down the best experience we had with an extracurricular club raising our two children. These kids work HARD year round, the coaches, volunteers and parent group were exceptional, I have not a single negative thing to say about them. It was by far the most positive, well behaved, smart group of kids we were involved with. Bradford is right about the work involved each day without a boathouse, it’s time consuming and a waste of the kids time. For you folks that live near the new boathouse, go down there and watch the kids work. Talk to the coaches, ask questions, educate yourselves. And if you’re a parent of a girl headed to high school and you’d like her to have the best chance at scholarship money – this is your sport. It’s pricey each year, but the percentage of girls that got fantastic scholarships for rowing was impressive. We got to know the UT Austin ladies rowing coach and her team over the years, what a fantastic program! And what a chunk of scholarship $$$ her ladies received.
    In the summer this club puts on several week long “learn to row” camps for middle and high schoolers to try out the sport at White Rock. It’s a cheap and easy way for your kid to give it a test and see if they like it.

  • Anonymous

    GREAT ARTICLE!

  • Avid Reader

    I am for the boathouse either way; but can we get a straight answer as to why they can no longer use or will no longer be using the massive newly updated White Rock Boat House?

  • Brett Moore

    Good. Let’s call it Karma.

  • mynameisbill

    You’re going to be hella popular today in HP. Go and see if you can grab a few free drinks from your new fan club there.

  • Rower

    DUC was notified by the management of the White Rock Boathouse that they would not be renewing the DUC lease because of WRBH’s anticipated growth over the next few years. It is their belief that the DUC space will be needed for their own programs. This was the catalyst for the creation of the new boathouse.

  • Kk.

    Even when it was called HP Crew, HP kids were only about 1/2 of the team. There were a bunch from Bishop Lynch, and then kids from a bunch of other schools. Too many people still think this is a priveledged Parkie thing but it’s just not. The only local high school with their own team that I remember was Jesuit.

  • Avid Reader

    Thank you for the info that is left out of every article/post on this topic, much appreciated.

  • John Bancheri

    I grew up in Atlantic City, NJ and rowed on a crew with kids from every walk of life in our area. True the majority were white. Rowing is a WATER sport and initially attracted kids that like (or experienced) being involved in water sports. It also attracts athletic kids who like to compete and in time, learn to respect and love the water. This kind of opportunity opens up a whole new world to many. btw- Bradford, keeping the boats outside without a roof is not a good thing for the students and the fragile equipment. Not only is it hard to take care of the boats, but all the money and effort you raise to buy those shells is diminished in its accelerated wear. In time, a boathouse pays for itself.

    As a rowing coach I have seen this sport take in rough kids (like myself) and transform them into disciplined student-athletes (like myself) who go on to do productive things with ther lives. Yes, that can be said about many activities. Well, Dallas Metro here is an opportunity to add another fantastic activity that requires dedication and discipline to succeed.

  • Alex Binkowski

    I agree with you 100% but please note that White Rock Boathouse is the name used by an organization already in existence on the lake. They have been rowing for a while and have offered the same services and more than DUC propose to offer. http://www.whiterockboathouse.com So if we are going to get the facts correct we need to identify the groups correctly and by their proper names. Thank you.

  • mcgaritydotme

    I am in agreement with you, because of the opportunities this might open up for the sport and for youth, in general. At Ignite Dallas a few years ago, the subject of rowing for the less-privileged community was discussed . Here’s the video from that evening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxS21vwkRfg