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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Noisy fans at Olympic Curling games: Yes? So?

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.

But good-natured, enthusiastic, roof-raising noise – or 5000 voices singing O Canada?

Love it or hate it, this could be the new trend in curling as a spectator sport.

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