U.S. rower Henrik Rummel, 24, became infamous for sporting a large erection while collecting his bronze medal at the podium of 2012 London Olympics with his teammates (Scott Gault, Charles Cole and Glenn Ochal). Now University of Michigan rowing coach Charley Sullivan has taken up Rummel’s cause, arguing that the Internet talk is beside the point. “For all their hard work and grand success, the e-chat about rowing now centers not on the four and their accomplishments, but on spandex and Henrik’s junk, and the question of whether or not he had an erection on the podium,” Sullivan wrote in an article for SB Nation. “And one of the things we try to initially hide from potential freshman walk-ons is now fully on display.”

Henrik Rummel with erection at Olympic Ceremony (Image: YouTube)

Henrik Rummel with erection at Olympic Ceremony (Image: YouTube)

A consummate sports coach, Sullivan then gives a play-by-play of how such an uncomfortable faux pas could occur. “You see, if you choose to row, and you have a penis and a testicle or two, said equipment will inevitably be on full display. In front of God and your grandma and everyone,” he wrote.

“This is a major piece of education that we do with our guys about two days before their first fall regatta, about the same time we give them their first pair of rowing shorts, or ‘trou’ as we call them, short for trousers,” which are “made of spandex” and “tight enough to not get caught in the rolling mechanisms of the boat’s seats, and just loose enough to let you move well,” Sullivan continued. “Although you can wear underwear under them, it’s not particularly comfortable, it can get in the way, and really, there’s no need, so most male rowers I know go commando.”

The idea, Sullivan defends, is to “lift and separate,” which, as we all now know, was certainly accomplished in Rummel’s case.

In the meantime, Sullivan applauds Rummel for his nonchalant response to the erection hysteria, which he interprets as a “prudish” reaction to men’s anatomy with a distinct undercurrent of homophobia, comparing the incident to the 1980s mass rejection of Speedos because they “had become ‘gay'” overnight.

Sullivan, who is openly gay, credits the “reportedly quite heterosexual Rummel,” with, among other things, “learning to be comfortable with your body and to handle international discussion of your penis and testicles and with grace and good humor. Check,” he wrote.

Rummel, for his part, took the alleged erection in his stride. “This is me and I swear it’s not erect!” Rummel defended on Reddit last week after photographs of his upright package were plastered all over the Internet. “I don’t know why it ended up in that position but there you go,” he stated.

For more on Henrik Rummel and related stories:

Henrik Rummel Responds To Olympic Bulge Drama: ‘I Swear It’s Not Erect!’

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