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Thursday, June 17, 2010

I want to move to Scotland – where they have a flair for reporting their curling news

Like most curling fans, I browse the internet regularly for out-of-the-way stories about the sport’s people and events. 

(Of course, Google Alerts can’t distinguish between curling as in sport and curling as in using a hot iron stick to beautify your hair, but whatever…)

Sometimes a gem will pop up, like this recent article from The Southern Reporter in Selkirk about the changing of the guard at several curling clubs in the Borders region of Scotland:

AT THE AGM, Earlston Curling Club promoted straight-talking David Mitchell to president, following in Wendy Henderson's dainty footsteps.

“Dainty footsteps”?  Really?  But I love it! (Inappropriate and possibly sexist as it may be). Is this a comment on Wendy’s leadership style?  And what about David?  “Straight-talking”? Does that mean he has a gift for telling it like it is – not always as “daintily” as he might?  Anyone who has served on a curling club executive knows what I’m talking about.  The behind-the-scenes story emerging here is fascinating.

And there’s more:

Due to various clinical and orthopaedic bothers amongst the higher echelons of the membership, this past season was not the greatest in the club’s history.They suffered a dismal Border League campaign with one or two hard-luck moments and little good fortune in the Berwickshire competitions.

You have to love it: orthopaedic bothers.  Sore knees?  Bad back?  Wrist? Elbow?  What, what?  I’m dying to know. Did someone crash to the ice during the all-important last throw to the four-foot? Did a sweeper have to bail?  Were drugs of the over-the-counter painkiller variety involved?

We have great curling reporters in Canada, in print (The Curling News comes to mind…) and on TV (TSN’s Vic, Linda and the recently-retired Ray, for example). But this kind of writing is to curling what Danny Gallivan was to hockey broadcasting.  I’d love to see more of it. 

In the meantime, I’ll be trolling the internet for more Scottish curling reports…

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Curling on TV: “Charming people being sweet, good-natured and kind.” Really?

John Doyle, the TV columnist for The Globe and Mail is one of my favourite newspaper writers. He can be quirky (writing about his wild brother and the lads, or his adventures in the “TV racket”) and very, very funny (see same), but he can also be direct and analytical. He knows a lot about sports, too, and he also covers World Cup soccer. He was the columnist who drew a country’s eyes towards the charms of Cheryl Bernard during the Olympics. (And a few years ago he did the same for Colleen Jones, believe it or not!) Apparently he gets a lot of mail and not all of it complimentary, but he tackles his topics head on and applies a clear-eyed and very articulate filter to his commentary on issues relating to both the creative and political sides of the broadcasting industry. No nonsense, with Doyle.  He tells it as he sees it, and I like that.

In today’s column,(read it here) he takes on the CBC’s new fall schedule and complains that it doesn’t have enough bite.

He refers to shows such as Battle of the Blades, Heartland and Being Erica. “The curling comedy could be great fun,” he adds, referring to the upcoming Men With Brooms (the details of which can be found at The Curling News). “But is that all there is?”

“Where’s the buzz?" he asks. “Where’s the show with the dark undercurrent, the one that has to be seen because it provokes, angers, frustrates, delights and thrills?”

John doesn’t know much about curling, does he?  Oh the storylines that a small town curling club (or large town curling club, or great big bonspiel…) can provide! And not all of them jolly and bite-free. Sex, drugs, feuds and animosities, broken and/or budding romances, over-indulgence, power, greed, nastiness...! As well as all the good stuff that we curlers just take for granted: skill, respect, a sense of humour, and the overall beauty of a sport at once graceful (Glenn Howard or Kevin Martin or any other elite curler sliding out from the hack with perfect draw weight…) and ferocious (Kennedy and Hebert pounding a dying rock across the hogline to the button, or the voice-cracking desperation of a sweeping call that could make the difference between victory and defeat).

So John, you can lump Battle of the Blades, Heartland, Being Erica and Debbie Travis’ series “showcasing good Canadians” together if you want.  But you might want to hold fire on Men With Brooms. I suspect it’s not going to be a show about “charming people being sweet, good-natured and kind.” At least, I hope not!