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?