I Love Curling

You know how on sports media websites they list all the popular sports across the top – football, hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer – and then there’s a drop down menu listing the “other sports” that aren’t deemed popular enough for main billing?

I don’t find that fair and think it does a disservice to those sports, who are looking to grow. I’ve witnessed first hand how a less popular sport has to fight for all the coverage it receives.

This being said, I realize websites only have so much space and these media corporations may not have any/as much money invested in broadcasting rights for “other sports”.

When I say “other sports”, I’m taking about: auto racing, lacrosse, tennis, golf, curling, rugby, college athletics, MMA, and more.

As someone who grew up watching just about every sport I found on TV, I quickly realized not many people were like me and they didn’t care about lacrosse, or curling, or auto racing, or any amateur sports CBC aired on Saturday afternoons.

At some point, I’ll write about lacrosse and rugby, and later this week I’ll write about auto racing, but this post is about curling.

A lot of you just went to sleep. For the rest of us, we’re going to go to sweep. That’s my first ever curling pun on this blog, drink it in.

I’ve been watching curling since the early 2000s and think it’s just fantastic. It’s right up my alley, in terms of a sport that looks really simple, but is actually extremely difficult and has a lot of layers of strategy.

I have never been curling before and regret that, because what if I’m this world class curler and don’t even know it? Probably not. But what if?

When you watch curling on TV in Canada, the teams are normally divided by province and territory. I grew up watching teams skipped (A “skip” in curling is the captain) by Kevin Martin, Wayne Middaugh, John Morris, Glenn Howard, Russ Howard, Randy Ferbey, and Jeff Stoughton.

Jeff Stoughton was one of my favourites, even though he represented Manitoba, because when it was his turn to throw, he’d use an old corn broom for support, rather than a modern broom that everyone else used.

I thought that was cool.

Randy Ferbey’s Alberta team was so dominant. I loved watching them play, but I’m programmed to root for the underdog and they never were.

Kevin Martin just exuded so much confidence and this week was named the greatest Canadian curler of all-time.

One of my favourite curlers is John Morris. I became a John Morris fan in 2002, when he was the skip for Team Ontario at the Nokia Brier (Now called the Tim Hortons Brier). The Brier is the biggest annual men’s curling tournament is Canada and has been around since 1927.

The women’s annual tournament is called the Scottie’s Tournament of Hearts and takes place a few weeks before the Brier. It’s equally compelling.

That 2002 Brier lined up perfectly with March Break, so I got to watch as much curling as I wanted. There’s still an image in my mind to commemorate that occasion.

At the time, John Morris was a young up and comer, and everything he did looked so cool.

Over the years, he’s bounced around with teams in different provinces, but is now focussing on mixed doubles.

Mixed doubles is a relatively new curling discipline, where the team is comprised of one male and one female. That’s it. Two people, as opposed to the customary four.

It means, whoever throws a stone, probably has to get up and chase it down the ice, while their teammate watches for line and instructs them to sweep, or not.

It’s exhilarating, really. It reminds me of Rugby Sevens. Both sports make my lungs burn.

In 2018, he teamed up with Kaitlyn Lawes to qualify for the Olympics. They went on to win the gold medal. Kaitlyn Lawes had already been my favourite women’s curler for about five years, so the two of them teaming up felt like someone broke into my brain to see what Paul would like.

I’ve only come across 2-3 people with whom I can have a conversation about curling. That number is excluding my grandparents, who used to stay up late to watch.

In one of my university classes, we had to get into groups of five and pick a sport that was played in multiple continents, but wasn’t apart of the Core Four – Hockey, Baseball, Basketball, Football.

From there, we had to create a Wikipedia page and fill it with as much information about our sport as we possibly could. We’d be done, when we ran out of things to say.

Other groups quickly snatched up sports like: soccer, rugby, tennis, golf, and cricket. So I suggested to my group that we do curling. Oh what a dream.

Curling it was!

If you’re not actively trying to include your interests in your school assignments, you’re doing it wrong.

That was one of my favourite projects because it allowed me to learn even more about a sport I already liked. Isn’t that what school should be about? I’m sitting here laughing as I type this.

As I mentioned earlier, the 2019 Brier took place over the course of the last nine days. If you want to learn about Canada, the Brier is one of the first things that should be taught.

I found myself strategizing for each team, thinking about what shot I would call for and where the next rock should be placed. Curling is a lot like Sudoku, in that you almost have to know what the next move is, before making the first one.

I love strategic games like that. That’s probably one of the reasons why I also love baseball. You have time to think about what you’re going to do, but in the heat of the moment, the situation can change and you have to react instantly.

TSN (which is the Canadian version of ESPN) has always done a great job with curling coverage. Vic Rauter is the voice of curling in this country. He used to do Formula One back in the oughts and his voice was the only thing waking me up for 8AM races and qualifying sessions on the weekend.

Joining him in the booth were curling legends, Russ Howard and Cheryl Bernard. I can’t stress just how comfortable it is listening to them.

With sports like basketball and football, you get commentators and analysts with so much bravado, as if they know best at all times. I don’t like that, unless it’s Tony Romo.

Sports should be handled with care and treated like a newborn baby.

It should be: here’s the sport – let’s share it with others and make sure they love it as much as we do. I think the curling broadcasts on TSN do that remarkably well. I think Canadian broadcasts, in general, are very good at doing that.

Every two years, the Olympics turn into this big emotional event for two and a half weeks because we’re presented with remarkable stories of athletes we’ve never heard of and video montages of slow moving images with perfectly selected songs, that tug at our heart strings.

With curling, you don’t get extensive debates or opinionated analysts who get mad when no one agrees with them. You just get the sport, in all its beauty, and can enjoy it like a warm bowl of soup.

That’s what I love about sport; that’s what I love about curling.

All these debate shows that revolve around multiple people yelling at each other, bother me. Who cares? Who really cares?

You’re not going to get people to love a sport because you present it via anger and negativity.

You’re going to get people to love a sport by being genuine about what you’re presenting and making it a comfortable experience for everyone.

Sure, that may not get you as much sponsorship money, nor will it get you out of the “other sports” category on websites, but if a sport can grab someone’s heart, I think that’s the most valuable thing.

I love curling. I just wish more people did.

Do you like/watch curling? What are your thoughts on how sports are currently presented?

About Paul

I think of my blog as an all-you-can-read buffet. There's something for everyone and complimentary mints at the door as you leave.
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22 Responses to I Love Curling

  1. Becky Turner says:

    I do enjoy watching curling, but since it’s not all that popular in the US, I only watch it during the Olympics. I sort of understand how it works, but I can’t explain it to someone. I remember in the 2010 Olympics the Denmark team had some crazy pants.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Paul says:

      Yeah, I kinda figured curling didn’t fit in with the American sports landscape, outside of the Olympics. Yes they did have crazy pants! I was happy they were trying to add some more personality to the sport.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. V Donovan says:

    I love curling! I played it as a kid and this past fall/winter, I’ve gotten back into playing it, and it’s really just so fun, and everyone in it is so nice. It’s great to watch because the game moves quick, but also slow enough for you to, as you said, kind of strategize along with the TV.
    It’s a sport that literally anyone can play and you should definitely see what your local club can offer you. My club has a Novice Leauge for newbies where they have coaches teaching you when it’s needed and everyone is learning together and playing and having fun.
    But I also think it’s really cool that you enjoy the sport not having played it, and do so outside of the Olympics because not many people do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      That’s so cool! I imagine it to be a great environment to play and learn. I would always pass by my local curling club on the way to play baseball as a kid. Just looked up prices and it looks like their “Learn to curl” spots are all booked up…and also cost $400 wow. I’ll curl one day, though!


      • V Donovan says:

        Yeah, it is stupidly expensive at all clubs in Ontario. It’s a shame, because if they want to get new people in to try, they really should make it more affordable.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Paul says:

        I think I saw they charge $25 for little kids haha I’m way late for that. There should even be a night/weekend where it’s just first timers dropping in for a trial period to see if it’s something they want to continue. I’ve noticed they’ve started teaching it in schools, where kids can play on their gym floor. That’s cool. Again, wish I was a kid…


  3. Paul, I’m so proud of you, it’s high time someone STOOD UP for curling! Have you ever noticed how most of the competitors in curling are always … doubled over — WITH BROOMS NO LESS! — even the throwers never STAND UP for the sport! I’ve never seen a single thrower bend over to pick up one of those rocks yet, much less throw it at a house —and the rock even comes with a handle! They’re always bent over while kneeling on one knee and then attempting to slide the stones instead. Why it seems like none of the competitors stand up for their own highly underrated sport. Even during the Olympics, NBC STOOPED to showing curling mostly on their satellite networks rather than on NBC itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Okies, I don’t want this to affect our friendship, but I hate curling. I’m sorry! I don’t even know why! But my line is usually if you can’t bleed by regular play, then it’s not a sport (here’s looking at you golf…)

    It’s so strange because my mom’s side of the family would hold Christmas at a curling rink just to play! And my brother really likes it too now that he’s an adult.

    But not me. I know nothing about it, and I’m ok with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      That sounds like an awesome Christmas gathering! You could put some food on a curling stone and pass it to someone at the other end!

      This won’t affect our friendship, but it won’t be forgotten haha

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol I never played. Just my cousins. I stayed in with my aunts and uncles and parents and my cousins’ children who were my age lol

        And I’m glad it won’t affect it. I can understand it won’t be forgotten though 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I love watching curling. There are many players I like but my favorite curler was Sandra Schmirler. She was awesome, winning many Championships with her team, and taking gold leading the Canadian team at the 1998 Winter Olympics. I agree with you, it would be nice to see curling promoted more than it is. Definitely an underappreciated sport.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      I think most people look at curling and think it’s a very simple sport with no strategy because it always gets that “shuffleboard on ice” comparison. I hear so much about Schmirler and her impact, but I was too young back then and don’t think I started watching curling until a few years after she passed. Apparently her daughter is curling now in Saskatchewan.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Barb Knowles says:

    I had never heard of curling until the year after I graduated from college, when a new work friend of mine had to go to upstate NY and/or Canada to curl. I thought she was insane because the only thing I could think of was curling her hair. I definitely don’t know as much about it as you do, but I like watching it and try to figure out the strategies.
    Now golf is another story…..I spent 1/2 of yesterday yelling at the tv. And I know everything about it. Are you sure it isn’t part of the Big 4 sports?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      LOL “curling her hair”. Thanks for that laugh. Ugh golf, I can’t sit through it unless it’s the final round of a major tournament and there’s a high level of drama. Maybe it’s all the green grass on the screen, or the fact that the commentators always whisper, but I can’t get into it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ely says:

    Ok!!! Now i KNOW I live under a rock! You’re gonna laugh. At first I thought this post was about SURFING!!! Lmfao!!!! Then I quickly realized I’ve never heard of or seen this sport in my life!!! GOOGLE?! Where you at??! Lol it looks like a hockey puck on steroids??! Less aggressive? Less players? Am
    I anywhere even close? Lol I learn something new in every post with you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul says:

      LOL ELY! This comment killed me ahahaha. Your description is actually quite accurate! Less aggressive, less players….it’s a sport a lot of old people like to play.

      Stupid question: Have you ever experienced ice in your life? Like a winter with ice?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ely says:

        Lol!!! I have! I lived in buffalo for a little over 2 years for University! I never experienced like a natural ice skating rink but I experienced the iced over sidewalks etc and lake-effect snow and snow storms and depression lol ugh. It was a beautiful experience but I wouldn’t do it again long-term!

        Liked by 1 person

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