Should We Just Do Away With The Boat Race?

"the boat race"Hi,
Saturday April 11th sees the annual renewal of the Boat race, one of the oldest rivalries in sport, as the crews from Oxford and Cambridge battle down the Thames. It also sees the women’s race on equal footing for the first time, but if you look at the TV scheduling, maybe we should just do away with the whole thing..?

The women’s race goes off at 4.50pm, down the same course that the men will row an hour later. Both races are live on the BBC, but the problem is there’s the small matter of a certain horse race as well – The Grand National.

I grew up watching both events on the good old Beeb, but then the Grand National was lost to money and went to Channel 4. The Boat Race has been all over the place switching back and forth, and the scheduling is a classic battle of money versus tradition in sport.

The rowers compete for nothing but honour. Ok, they get a trophy from the race’s sponsor, but going back to the first race in 1829, it’s all about the competition, the valour, the honour.

All well and good, but with no money, it’s hard to compete in an increasingly vicious world of TV sport.

That’s why there is no option but to shoehorn it in after one of the biggest events in the British calendar, which is the National. That race will see complete non sports fans rushing to place bets for the one and only time of the year, because a horse is named after their Gran, or has a woman jockey.

Throw in Tony McCoy’s last National, and the betting shops will busier than Tesco at Christmas. It’s a vital day for the racing industry. What’s more, there’s a new starting procedure in jump racing this year, and the chance of a false start is high, pushing the start time back even further from its’ 4.15 slot.

Bearing all that in mind, those non sports fans who might normally tune in for the tradition of the boat race may have already had their fix of sport and the ubiquitous Clare Balding, and won’t bother with the Boat Race. Let’s face it, that may even be the case for *actual* sports fans.

Die hards like me will be watching both of course, but come on TV, sort it out!
Have it on Sunday, like it was last year, or have it on another Saturday not half an hour away from a sporting giant like the National.

The Boat Race deserves better, doesn’t it? We mustn’t just let the tradition of the race just fizzle out to an insignificance and die. We can’t…can we?

Do let me know what you think, I love the feedback, and of course if you are in any doubt, then no, I don’t think we should do away with the race at all – no, no, no!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & happiness,
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  • Hi Gordon. I certainly remember when the tradition of the O & C Boat Race was a special Day out for the family when we lived close to the Thames! Obviously that and the National on ‘the other side’ which we didn’t like to talk about! The inevitable commercial needs of TV plus the ‘posh university’ reputation seemed to push it further down the ratings – but it is a great event and I hope it will always hold a place in the calender. It’s not popular to be proud of the country we were born in any more, but it’s very much English, and you can never get these things back once they have gone. It does no harm, and inspires people to push themselves – so keep it I say Great Blog by the way Richard

    • Hi Richard,
      yes, it does seem to have gone down the importance rankings. Some people might say ‘hang on, both women’s and men’s races are live on BBC1!’ and that is a fair point, but I just can’t see why it has to be scheduled so close to the National.

      I know I’ll be watching both!