Monday, September 24, 2007

Yes indeed, curlers are whiners

Well, well... what have we here?

Winnipeg is in an uproar today as the internal news of Asham’s cancellation of that city’s major Asham World Curling Tour event has now exploded into the public forum (also located here).

The Curling Show was quick to get Arnold Asham himself on the horn, and while there are varying reasons why the event has been cancelled, there is one idea percolating which The Curling News must sadly agree with: curlers – in particular the competitive breed – are indeed among the biggest whiners in the world of sports.

This phenomenon has actually been discussed in some major boardrooms of the sport, and many believe it’s a simple consequence of the very nature of curling as a self-managed and self-policed sport.

Think about it. Opposite to most other amateur or professional sports, curlers are somehow permitted to:

• “hire” and “fire” their own team members
• operate with or without a coach or alternate, if they so choose
• police their own game, except at various provincial, national and world championships

This is so ingrained into the sport of curling – and so alien a concept to so many other sports – that curlers reading this are probably getting hot under the collar at the phrase “permitted to.”

In many other sports, even the equivalent of a top curling skip is told – by various sport coaches, managers, owners and/or bureaucrats – what to do and when to do it. And what’s more, you’ll darned well like it, mister!

Even the nature of the curling governance structure lends credence to this concept. Some other sport leaders would shake their heads if told that Canada’s national curling association is merely an umbrella organization, with limited to non-existent power to actually direct the strategy and activities of the provincial associations.

And you can rest assured their jaws are still lying on the floor, two years later, over the public spectacle of irate curling fans forcing that governing body to tear up a multi-year television contract and redo the entire thing... by unleashing a torrent of bad press and even going so far as to threaten sponsors.

From an outside-the-sport perspective, you’ve gotta be kidding!

In this context, curlers get away with murder when compared to other athletes in other sports and will obviously not hesitate to bray loudly if something irks them.

What is tragic is the curler’s tendency to bray the loudest when his or her competitive team is adversely affected by a given situation. It’s hard to ignore the level of selfishness that often ingrains itself into such a self-governed sport.

Then again, curlers still aren’t “paid” very much for their services, are they?

Or aren’t they?

And is that not an entirely different kettle of fish?

Or not?


The Curling Show also has a segment with icemaking madman Shorty Jenkins ...

• In Brockville, Glenn Howard beat Brad Gushue to win the Shorty Jenkins Classic, in a repeat of the Brier final result from last March. Reigning champ Kevin Martin lost the semi to Howard, while Wayne Middaugh’s super-team with Jon Mead and Graeme McCarreland Ian Tetley and Scott Bailey – lost the quarterfinal to Howard. Russ who?

On the women’s side, Debbie McCormick most enjoyed the vibrant Canadian dollar, as her Team USA upended Quebec’s Eve Bélisle in the final match ...

• In Galt/Cambridge, the BDO Galt Classic was a big hit in the shopping mall and on Rogers Television... at least the men’s final, as Darryl Prebble surprised Mike Harris with a 6-5 victory for the championship, which was also The Battle For Scarborough (Prebble represents Scarborough Golf Club, while Harris appears to be back at neighboring Tam Heather).

The women’s final was a dud as Julie Reddick made it two spiels in a row with a 13-5 bombing of Colleen Madonia, but Hollie Nicol’s junior team from Kitchener-Waterloo impressed by losing the semi-final to Reddick by a 7-6 count.

“After losing, we said give us five minutes and we’ll be happy with the weekend,” Nicole told The Record. “Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we did that.”

• Over in Edmonton, the locals must be smarting over the fact that a couple of visiting teams waltzed into their town, kicked everyone’s butt and left with the big cash. Bingyu Wang of China crushed Glenys Bakker of Calgary 8-1 in the Boston Pizza women’s final, while Saskatchewan’s Pat Simmons beat Kelly Row, Randy Ferbey and then Brent MacDonald to win the men’s cheque ...

• The same thing happened over in Norway, as Canadian invaders took out their European opposition at the Radisson SAS Oslo Cup. Edmonton’s Kevin Koe took out the perhaps-not-so-retired Pål Trulsen 7-2 to win the men’s crown, while Winnipeg’s Jennifer Jones defeated Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 7-6 in an all-Canuck women’s final. A couple of Scottish teams, skipped by Kelly Wood and Claire Milne, made the semis.

• The second Grand Slam of Curling event has been announced, and once again the small Cape Breton city of Port Hawkesbury will play host to The National, this time running Dec. 20-23.

“Having the Grand Slam of Curling returning to Port Hawkesbury for a third consecutive year is a tribute to the local community, businesses, volunteers and organizers as each group has been instrumental in making The National such a success,” said Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean. “We’re looking forward to hosting the top curling teams from Canada, the United States and Europe in late December and this prestigious world class event will serve as a welcomed early holiday gift for the residents of Port Hawkesbury.”

The Grand Slam events feature a pile of Canada’s top men’s squads including Martin, The National’s defending champion, along with Ferbey, Gushue, Glenn Howard and 2003 Tylenol Players’ Champion Jeff Stoughton.

The top 15 Canadian men’s teams, along with two European squads and one entry from the United States of America, will compete in The National. A complete list of participating teams will be announced in November ...

BalancePlus has sent out a cool notice summarizing the “Battle of the Brushes” this past weekend; ie. they’ve just announced the teams wielding their new tapered blue and orange BalancePlus brushes this season: Teams Harris and Peter Corner (semi-finalist in Brockville) and also Team Sherry Middaugh (lost semis at Galt).

These teams will help BalancePlus raise funds for Prostate Cancer Research via an end-of-year auction of each brushe, which will be covered in autographs. The funds raised from the auction will be split between Prostate Cancer Research and the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

BP’s pink brushes, now widely available, will continue as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer. You can add to the support by purchasing one of these charity-connected items today ...

• Finally, a sad occurrence in Japan over the weekend ...

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I can't stand when people try to compare curling to other sports, because it's not like other sports.

It's like saying, "I don't know why this orange is so citrusy, this apple isn't at all citrusy. There must be something wrong with this orange."

It's just not fair to compare curling to ANY other professional or amateur sports (with one exception).

The organization and make up of the sport is nothing like hockey, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc.

It is only similar to golf.

Golfers can enter any tournament they want. Golfers can hire and fire their caddies and coaches. And golfers get paid based on performance (and, as we saw with the FedEx Cup, golfers whine a lot too).

So, while we curlers may whine a lot compared to hockey players, football players, etc., that's an unfair comparison. We don't whine more than golfers.

So I don't think the amount of money curlers are making is really an issue, because golfers make an incredible amount of money, but still whine.

There's definitely a lot of selfishness involved. I'm not saying that in this case the players were right- but I'm also not saying Arnold was right.

All I really know is the PGA didn't cancel the FedEx Cup because of some whining and complaining...

Somebody has to be the level head throughout the whining and complaining, and in this case, that level head was Team Dutaiume. It definitely shouldn't have fallen to them...

Bryce J. McEwen