Sunday, February 21, 2010

The World's Most Disappointing Sport?

Those of you who have been following my blog for years will know that I get excited when the Winter Olympics come around.  It's the only time every four years that I can watch curling on television.

Lots of people don't understand the game.  The ones who say curling isn't a "real" sport probably wouldn't say the same about baseball.  But there's about as much physical activity in both games--short bursts.  Curling also requires a great deal of strategy which has led to its nickname "chess on ice."   Curling is indeed a sport, and a fascinating and exciting one at that.

Admittedly, my interest in curling is myopic compared to the game's history since its origins in Scotland 500 years ago, and my scope has been limited to the Olympic games.  Maybe that's why I've been so disappointed with what I've seen so far this year from Team USA.

The women have been looking better the past two days.  Their record now is 2-3 in round-robin play.  The men are a different story.  They lost their first four games because US skip John Shuster, lead for the 2006 bronze-winning team, couldn't follow through on his final shots.  Thankfully, with a change in shooting positions they too have won their last two games.

I'm also utterly disgusted with the USA Curling Association's latest source of revenue:  condoms.  Let me be clear:  I am all for reducing the scourge of AIDS in the world.  The problem with this situation is two-fold.  First, it perpetuates the conventional wisdom that condoms are an effective measure in reducing AIDS (not true--one of the many problems with condoms and something we can discuss later in a more serious post).  Second, the USA Curling Association is getting half of the profits.  So they're exploiting the complacency and ignorance mentioned in the press release to push a questionable "preventative" measure and profit from a serious disease in order to advance their otherwise noble sport.

Regardless of these blemishes, curling is still worth your time.  You can't appreciate the game by researching it on Wikipedia; you really need to watch it (if you have cable).  And you've only got a week left.