On Monday night, the CJS tweeted the following: “Curling, man. Why can’t I look away? Every freaking day I’m watching this ridiculous shit.” That was me.
Despite Erin Burnett and Mario Bartiromo’s ridiculous hotness on their Today Show updates that I inexplicably watch each morning, I have no reason to even acknowledge CNBC’s presence as a network. Jim Cramer is a hollering fool, market wrap-ups have as much utility as your local fortune teller’s latest palm reading, and the stock ticker at the bottom is like an even less interesting version of the college basketball scores that endlessly populate ESPN’s bottom line during February.
Yet, for the last two weeks CNBC has been the network I’ve kept on most. Why? One reason: Grown men and women chasing after 40 lb. stones with brooms for sport.
I don’t know what it is about curling. It’s not terribly exciting. There’s no threat of violence. The sport has been called “chess on ice” which doesn’t normally lend itself to compelling television. And, depending on which nation is represented (and which gender), you’re rolling the dice with either hot chicks or frumpy-looking housewives pushing circular stones at a target several dozen yards away. In short, this seems like a sport that should immediately following the Professional Bowling Tour on ESPN2 each Sunday.
Yet, I can’t get enough of it.
Part of me watches because I don’t understand it. You always hear during the Super Bowl how 90-some-odd countries tune in to the game each year, even though you’d have to guess roughly 89 of them don’t understand the game of football. Still there’s something hypnotic about watching some other country’s most popular sport played by the people who do it best. While in England I watched parts of three different cricket matches. Of all the games on the planet, cricket makes the least sense. Have someone explain cricket to you sometime. It’s like listening to a Native Aztec speaker explain Japanese Kanji to you. Hearing an explanation only exacerbates the problem. But still, I watched cricket because whatever the players were doing, and even though I didn’t understand a lick of it from a strategic standpoint, I just like watching people play games and/or sports.
In college I lived with Senor Limon and CJS Regulars Deuce, Tron, and Keithage. I excelled at sports games, but didn’t necessarily give a crap about adventure games. Yet I watched both Tron and Senor Limon play through the entirety of Metroid Prime on the GameCube. And the reason I did this is the exact same reason I watch curling.
I realize that I would probably LOVE curling if I understood it more, but as it stands, I am incapable of thinking more than two moves ahead, which is the foundation of the entire strategy of curling. I mostly just like seeing the intensity on the face of the person pushing the rock down the ice, seeing two people scrub the surface like they’re incurable meth-heads, and hearing the skip yell at everyone in a (mostly) silent arena.
“HARD! HAAA-AAARD! HAAAAAAAA-AAAAAARRRRD!”
And then the sweepers sweep like their lives depend on it, the rock bloops off another rock, some other guy steps in and sweeps like an OCD-afflicted maniac, the announcers say something, and I just smile at the entire production like an exchange student getting introduced to his host family’s friends. I don’t give a shit who wins. I like to see America do well, but honestly… listening to people shout at each other in a foreign language is just so satisfying.
Curling is like baseball in that the entire game is based on strategy, which, from a psychological standpoint, is awesome. But it’s a sport (just like baseball) in that no matter how good the strategy is, you still have to execute. Everyone knew that Vinny Castilla liked first pitch fastballs, but pitching to him still meant you had to give him something he couldn’t hit, which still proved difficult.
You’d like to execute a tick shot to remove the corner guards in order to score a triple this round, but can you do it?
Curling is fun because you can learn as you go. Downhill skiing is easily much more exciting to watch, but it’s impossible to play along at home. There’s no relatable insight you can glean from watching the sport; all you think is that these bitches better ski fast. With curling, you get to figure out how to play right along with the people doing it. And because it’s so low-impact (no denying the cardiovascular shape required to sweep for 10 ends), you can project yourself into the game.
Curling may not be the most exciting event you watch during these games (My vote goes to ski cross for that honor), but it’s probably the one you can watch most of. And while it’s not a Thing We Love (not yet, anyway), it definitely warrants praise.
In the words of Lee S. Hart: See ya’ in the house at the tee line…
25 Feb 2010 E Dagger