Yup, we’re talking curling here. The Brier is the men’s Canadian championship in curling and we’re right in the middle of it right now. Until I moved to Northern Ontario less than a decade ago I had no interest in the sport. Looking for something to do in the winter months in Thessalon I joined a curling team and quickly discovered the charm of this very Canadian of pastimes. Now during the winter you can find me watching curling on tv, playing in the weekly men’s league in Thessalon, and joining in bonspiels (curling tournaments) whenever possible.
It wasn’t until I had played that I started taking an interest in watching the “pros” on tv. Getting out on the ice yourself you discover just how long that sheet of ice is and how difficult it is to make the shots that those more experienced make look easy. I’m also not really a “sports guy” – I don’t really watch any other sports much on tv. But curling is a bit different. The majority of the “pros” in Canada have other jobs – curling isn’t a career like NHL hockey player or golfer. There is money in it, but not enough to sustain the average person’s lifestyle. This makes it more “real” to me and is part of what makes it so easy to support.
Playing curling is different than other sports too. It is a sport of graciousness and sportsmanship taken to a higher level. Games always start with a handshake and “good curling” with the opposing team members. If the game is nearing the end and it is unlikely that one team could catch up then they shake hands and concede the game – before the technical end of the game. Now if I happen to catch a hockey game it seems ridiculous watching the underdog continue to try to score when they’re down 5 goals and there’s 2 minutes left in the game. Imagine if they just shook hands and conceded the game! That is class. And at the end of the curling match it is tradition to sit down with your opponents, enjoy a beverage and spend some time together. From what I hear this happens even at the top levels of curling competition. The community aspect of the sport is as much a part of the game as what happens on the ice.
The other great thing about curling is that people of all ages can enjoy playing the game. Delivering of rocks can now be done using a “stick” so that the player doesn’t have to get down in the hack, avoiding all that bending and getting back up off the ice. In our club we have people in their late eighties still getting out and playing each week.
Curling is a community activity that provides all sorts of benefits to the members of that community. I’m glad I discovered this, even if it came a bit later in life!