Winter Crew: A Sport or a Glorified Workout

What do you think qualifies a form of exercise as a sport?


Photo courtesy of Sophia Ran '23

Baldwin crew team hard at work on the erg machines.

Where does winter crew stand among other winter athletic offerings? The athletes spend hours traning on rowing machines, weight lifting, and running stairs every week. However, the Baldwin community can’t seem to decide if that is enough for winter crew to be recognized as a sport, or if the months of training are simply preparation for their main spring season.

Even the Baldwin Athletics website has several inconsistencies in classifying winter crew. On the “Staff and Coach Directory” page under “Athletics,” winter crew is not listed as a sport under the “Winter Sports” section. However, winter crew is given its own team page in the “Team Pages” section under “Athletics,” with Coach Meredith Mariani ‘94 denoted as the Head Coach.

The controversy likely originates from people’s conflicting definitions of a sport, and particularly, whether these definitions require competition.

Flora Brigham ‘23, a Baldwin Indoor Track member, said, “Competition is just a way for people to get recognition for the hard work they’re putting in.” She doesn’t believe competition is required for recognition as a sport.

On the other hand, Coach Christian Jeantet, Baldwin’s Strength and Conditioning Coach, said, “Competition season is when you compete and your pre-season is when you train.”

When asked whether winter crew should be deemed a sport, Coach Jeantet said, “I’m in a gray area where I would say [winter crew] is in a preseason phase of [their] competition season and the spring will be [their] true sports season.”

Despite the widespread notion that competition is required for exercise to qualify as a sport, dance—in which participants do not compete against peers and instead perform for the community—is recognized as an official winter sport at Baldwin. 

Baldwin’s dance captain, Cathy Wang ‘23, said, “A competitor doesn’t necessarily need to be another group of people. It can also be yourself, whether you’re exceeding your limit or overcoming fears.” 

Coach Mariani said that winter crew is definitely a sport. She reasoned, “The time commitment required in the winter echoes the fall and spring.”

Clearly, there are many opposing views on the validity of winter crew’s sports title. But one thing is for sure: rain or shine, the winter crew team can be found working hard in the Athletic Center, with their eyes toward competition in the spring.