Wednesday, February 22, 2006

On Throwing Rocks

All right, I'm going to come clean: I'm a fan of curling. It's the one sport I've been following faithfully during the Winter Olympics. I have forgone skiing and snowboarding events, and even Men's and Pairs skating to watch people slide round rocks down a long sheet of ice toward a large, round target.

I started watching years ago. I was living in Detroit and watching a lot of Canadian television. I discovered this apparently obscure sport by accident. At first I was confused, and then intrigued: and eventually I was hooked. Here was a game not dependent on brute strength or raw endurance. It was a game of skill and precision, and a good deal of physics. Sure, it took some physical skill. The stones weighed 22 pounds; and it had to take some grace to throw that rock just right while sliding, balanced on one foot, or to keep one's feet while sweeping the ice ahead of the rock. But it wasn't determined by the most perfect or most durable physical specimen.

Which also had another charm: this was a game played by folks like me. These were real people, apparently ordinary people in comfortable clothes. And they weren't all kids. (The oldest Olympian this winter is a curler who's approximately my age.) Sure, they're doing things I couldn't do. They were sliding heavy, round stones down 94 feet of ice, controlling the speed and direction, frequently knocking other stones out of the way, and still coming to a stop within inches of the intended target. But they weren't so different from me as to do things I couldn't imagine doing. It was almost as if curling were the winter sports’ embodiment of the old saying that “age and cunning will beat youth and strength every time.”

So, that's how I got hooked on curling. That's why I've been getting up early in the morning and missing supper. It's why I've been searching the cable channels owned by NBC (sure, I know it's not going to shine on prime time, but they don't have to move it from one day to the next). I suppose it’s just another one of my idiosyncrasies – one of many – an indulgence to be savored every four years. Be that as it may, I am certainly enjoying it now.

I also see some parallels between curling and life; but that will be the topic of another day.


Marshall Scott said...

Well, I don't think I could become an Olympic athlete, but perhaps I could play. Or, maybe I couldn't play, but at least these folks wouldn't snub me if we met socially (and I fear the skiers and boarders would). For that matter, we could meet socially (and I expect the skiers and boarders couldn't).

Rhiannon said...

I've just discovered your blog and it's wonderful. Do you mind if I add you to my "blogroll" (is that what they're called? I'm new).

Thank you,