Study Guide

Olympics Books The Amateurs

By Various Authors

The Amateurs

Another Book About Rowing: The Sport No One Really Watches

While reading The Amateurs, one point is abundantly clear: these rowers with their hearts set on gold were not given the same support other Olympic athletes had.

Because of several factors, like their event not being immensely popular, the 1980 Olympic boycott, and the lack of a professional status for American rowers, these guys were literally scraping enough money and food together to give it a shot.

One rower had to borrow a used skiff in order to qualify. Four of them dismantled hotel beds so that they could share a double room and save money. Crashing on friends' couches and eating food based on quantity, not quality, was a part of life for these passionate athletes.

So it was that when Tiff Wood, Joe Bouscaren, John Biglow, and Brad Lewis began their quest for gold, it was from a place of meager opportunity. Facing challenges that would be unheard of for other competitors, these athletes achieved greatness with little more than their muscles and the will to win.

Their path to glory was filled with bitter in-fighting, Ivy League snobbery, lack of resources, and some pretty petty behavior for a group of grown men. (In one case, an athlete gathered his things and stormed out, leaving his roommate and competitor of the past decade. All because the guy decided to row in a double.)

So if you take voyeuristic pleasure in seeing the catty things people do when competing for international greatness, The Amateurs is for you.