Photo by Anil Mungal, The Curling News.
Some of the competitors at the Olympic curling games have been complaining about the noise fans are making before, during and after key shots. Funny thing, the Canadian curlers love it! And why not? The noise demonstrates that the fans are really into the game, excited and engaged and, most importantly, following the action. What’s to complain about?
Well, apparently there’s lots to complain about: just Google “Olympics curling noise” and you’ll find a whack of articles from news sources around the world, some simply reporting, some offering editorial comment on the tendency of the crowd to cheer or boo throughout the action. It’s a new topic of conversation for the curling world, since in Canada and at other international events, the fans tend to be older, curling-savvy spectators who follow the unspoken rule: silence while curlers are throwing.
I wonder what baseball pitchers would think if the crowd buttoned it down for every pitch? Or hockey players taking a shot during overtime? Or a kicker in football? Why are we silent in some sports (golf, tennis, curling) and raucous in others?
(I can tell you that when I get into the hack to throw a shot in my Monday Night League, it’s not exactly silent. I bet any of those Canadian curlers out there on the ice have been playing in noisy club leagues and bonspiels all their curling lives, and the noise isn’t going to bother them.)
The issue might be trickier when it comes to partisan fans booing opposing players as they get down to throw. The traditional etiquette of the game calls for respect for one’s opponent on the ice, and yes, that should extend to the stands as well.
Love it or hate it, this could be the new trend in curling as a spectator sport.
Curling takes a lot of abuse. Boring, watching paint dry/grass grow, not an Olympic sport – these are some of the comments thrown our way by the uninitiated.
But Globe and Mail TV columnist John Doyle has an open mind. Readers know that soccer is his game, but he’s not above giving a few plugs for curling. Now, John is approaching the game as a TV critic, remember, so his take on curling has much to do with the visual rather than the sporting aspects of our sport. And he finds lots to comment on about curling as a TV sport: in particular, the attractions of women curlers. Remember the whole Colleen Jones thing a few years ago?
He’s moved on, and today’s article in the Globe and Mail is worth a look.
OK, so he has to make the “hard, harder” joke. Yes, yes, very funny. But he also refers to our “dead cool” Canadian team, led by Cheryl Bernard, and makes an indignant reference to the deadbeat who stole Miriam Ott’s uniform and curling shoes from the team van in Winnipeg. In other words, it’s not all “poke fun at the curlers” in today’s article.
In fact, he gets it absolutely right: “Tuesday’s Canada-Switzerland matchup was thrilling. A tense, tricky 5-4 victory for Canada,” Doyle writes.
Now, I wonder if he noticed that wonderful moment when Bernard accidently stopped a Swiss rock after a take-out, and Ott – in the spirit of curling that is unmatched by any other sport – simply moved the stopped rock to where she thought it might have rolled to: the back of the 12-foot. Ott could have chosen to leave her rock in the 4-foot, where it might have counted in the score. That’s her right as the non-offending skip in a burned rock situation. But of course, she didn’t. And she lost the game by 1 point.
Women curlers are great to watch, John; you’re absolutely right.
And if you want to check out some great photos of men and women curlers at the Olympics, check out the VANOC curling site, here.