Any sport that involves a bunch of sweaty men in the water yelling, “Stroke! Stroke! Stroke!” has got to be difficult. But it's more than just the psychological component in rowing. The stroke—the means by which the sportsman propels the watercraft—doesn't require just raw strength, but also precision movements, timing, and the ability to detect and read the waves of the water. Of all the sports we play, rowing probably requires the most cardiovascular fitness, and certainly the most upper body and back strength.
Soccer is a lot more common than rowing, so readers might be wondering what's so difficult about it—the readers that have never played soccer, that is. If you've ever watched a soccer (or “fútbol” to you crazy foreigners) match on television, you know that it involves running. A lot of running. Back and forth. Back and forth. Constantly running. It can make you tired just thinking about it. To compete in soccer, a player not only has to be fast, but he needs to be able to maintain that speed for the duration of his time on the field. On top of this crazy endurance, he has to actually be good at the game itself too—which comes down to a lot more than the ability to just kick a ball.
Known for its popularity amongst WASP-y private high schools and colleges, it's pretty strange that lacrosse has been tagged as a “yuppie” sport, since it's one of the most physically demanding games around. Like an abomination birthed after an all night orgy between soccer, football, and tennis, lacrosse doesn't just require its players to be fast, they've also got to be tough—this is most definitely a contact sport. While players are running down the field, dodging the advances of angry, overprivileged corn-fed white boys, they've also got to have the dexterity to catch and sling the ball with that strange little net contraption. Lacrosse is no joke, and players getting knocked out isn't uncommon.