Friday, February 21, 2014

What is the Deal with Curling?

Like most of the world, my attention was directed towards the Olympic Games this week. The winter games may not be as popular as the summer games, but there are some events that capture my attention; Bobsledding is one of those events. This competition appeals to a sense of adventure and need for speed. I can almost picture myself roaring down that frozen roller coaster  in a sled built by BMW, at speeds over 80 miles per hour (or 128 kilometers per hour, for those of you who aren’t stuck in the Dark Ages like we are in the United States).

If you are unconvinced that Bobsledding is a sport to watch, let me leave you with three words, “Jamiacan Bobsled Team.”

Another sport that I make sure to watch is Ice Hokey (that is how my Canadian friends say it.) To be honest, I only know the basics of the game: take a tree branch and slap a burned biscuit into the opponent’s net. The team that gets the most biscuits into the opposing team’s net wins the game.

The real attraction to hokey is listening to the play-by-play guys up in the media booth. These guys have to remember each player’s name and jersey number and call the plays with such rapidity they begin to sound like auctioneers. In addition to those skills, they have to be a lingual gymnast, correctly pronouncing each player’s name. I have tried to say one or two of those Russian names in a restaurant and have had concerned strangers rush up and give me the Heimlich Maneuver.

One other sport that captures my attention during the Olympics is Curling. This sport is shrouded in more mystery than an Agatha Christie novel, due to it’s protection by the International Committee to Protect Curling (ICPC).I searched for an explanation of how one actually plays and wins a game of curls and found a clip of curling, narrated by Sir David Attenborough, and produced by the BBC I figured a knight of the British Empire should be able to clear up this mystery.

Unfortunately, the BBC, in accordance with a mysterious international treaty, enforced by the ICPC against the export of Curling, its rules, and anything to do with the sport, has limited viewing of this video to the United Kingdom only. When I realized that I could not view this important piece, I ran to the kitchen and dumped all my tea into the sink and yelled, “This is Balderdashery.” in my best English accent.

Being a pragmatic American, I turned on the telly and watched some more curling, along with searching
Google, where I found that Curling and Shuffleboard are quite similar. Sadly, in the United States, one can only play Shuffleboard if you are a registered member of the American Association of Retired Persons. I think this secrecy is a result of pressure from the International Committee to Protect Curling.

In frustration, I turned my full attention to the images on the TV screen and the commentators’ comments about Curling. After a while, I realized that Curling was oddly similar to Bocce, or Bocce Ball, or Lawn Bowling. This is a game I was quite familiar with, being of Italian descent. Many a warm Sunday afternoon I spent with my cousins, uncles, and grandfather playing Bocce, The games with my uncles were always intense; they would measure distances down to the width of a finger, all in order to find out who scored the points for that round.

So, Dear Reader, I cannot tell you much about Curling, except that it is like Bocce, only played on ice. With brooms.

NOTE: After I posted this on Facebook, one of my wife's cousins reported that he had been on his high school's curling team. His own daughter expressed surprise, saying, "Seipusly, Dad? I didn't know you curled..."

This highlights the mystery and secrecy that shrouds the noble sport of Curling. 

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