Curling Up to the Olympics


I’ll be honest here; I’m not much of an athlete. Actually, to be truly frank, I’m barely qualified to be an armchair athlete. Like many red-blooded American men, I enjoy living vicariously through somebody else doing all the athletic work. I was thrilled to see the New Orleans Saints win their first Super Bowl. I have even experienced the thrill of seeing my beloved Atlanta Braves play at Turner Field. I have even taken my kids to see our local minor league baseball team (Rochester Redwings).

On top of all those great aforementioned experiences, I would be remiss if I did not speak of the Mardi Gras of sporting events; the grand-daddy of them all — The Olympics. This is the great armchair event to which our eyes, hearts, and spirited are treated every four years. Well actually, it’s every two years. You see, you get the Summer Olympics then you get the Winter Olympics two years later. Two years later, it’s the Summer Olympics again etc. This writing takes place in 2010. Therefore, I get to watch the Winter Olympic Games which are hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I get to experience watching such great medalists as Apolo Ohno, Johnny Spillane, and Bode Miller. My blood pumps and my adrenaline flows at the thrill of watching the biathlon, the luge, and (wait for it) curling.

For the unlearned, curling is not an Olympic sport for cosmetologists. It is not even a form of weightlifting. Curling takes place on a flat sheet of ice. One player slides a big rock on the sheet of ice toward the center of a bull’s eye target. While this rock (actually called a stone) is sliding toward the target, two other players, each holding a broom (Honest, it’s a broom) sweep the ice ahead of the stone’s path in an effort to guide it toward the center target. These athletic sweepers can even guide the stone to knock their opponent’s stone away from the center target. By the way, did I mention that this is an Olympic sport that has many countries competing for a medal? If I had known I could rise to THAT kind of greatness, I would have been quicker to clean my room as a kid. I could have stopped my parent’s nagging and trained for the Olympics simultaneously.

As I sit and watch this sport (so deemed by the International Olympic Committee), my mind is full of questions:

  • Why is it called curling in the first place? It’s bad enough we have athletes with brooms. Couldn’t they have called it something like Nordic Rock Ice Sliding or Highland Floor Darts?
  • Are there kids somewhere with a poster of a curling team on their walls? Are their curling trading cards? Is there some kid trying to negotiate a trade for a 1976 Gery Kleffman (which will probably cost a 1981 Jürg Tanner and a 1979 Morten Sørum)?
  • Are there endorsement deals for curling athlete? Is there a box of cereal somewhere bearing the likeness of a curling champion with a wide grin and thumbs up pose?
  • I noticed the player wearing protective eyewear. WHY? Forgive my ignorance but it’s not exactly a contact sport.
  • What happens in the off season for curlers (is it OK to call them that?)? Do they audition for a role in “Stomp”?

I don’t know if any of these questions will be answered. I may have to just sit and enjoy in silent ignorance. After all, it will all be over soon for another four years (or is it two?). I’d like to take a moment and apologize if I have unintentionally maligned or offended any curlers (that is hard to say with a straight face). May you all play your best and sweep your competition (Did you really think I was going to let that one get by?).

Advertisements