My last post seems to have created a little bit of discussion – and gotten me a few new readers.
Interesting reactions – a lot of agreement and a lot of disagreement.
A lot of people disagreed:
A lot of people do not see the problem: They see entries falling – but they say: “So what!” It is the natural evolution of the sport. The elite have gotten better. So shut up and be happy that you still have the Mixed and the Dominion to play in! Otherwise, quit your job, leave your wife (or try to find a very accommodating one!) that allows you to go all-in.
Also, people point to Brad Jacobs as an example of why I am wrong – as this team has “emerged” from the masses to join the elite level teams; thereby proving that the system works.
But a lot of people agreed:
I received massive agreement from the more remote provinces, where competitive curling has all but died. For example, if you are awesome in New Brunswick, you pretty much need to get on a plane and fly to get a CTRS point. Not surprisingly, a lot of people from BC, NB and NS agreed with my post wholeheartedly.
Interesting, people from other countries also chimed in, apparently this is not an exclusively Canadian sentiment.
Let me clarify a few points:
1. I have no beef with people who dedicate their lives to curling. I think it is awesome that teams can dedicate their lives to mastering the game, and they deserve our respect, admiration and definitely some funding. I will cheer for Canada at the Olympics, and I have no beef with the elite teams in Canada. The sport needs an elite.
2. My beef is with the notion that it is all or nothing. You need to be the absolute best, or you should shut up, grab three club curlers and try for the Dominion. I think the Dominion is great. But I think it is insulting to a lot of curlers in this country to tell them that they belong in a “Best of the B” event.
The strength of Canadian curling comes in large part from its depth. The reason Brad Jacobs is so good, is that they needed to rise up from the countless solid cashspiel teams that exist in order for them to break into the elite. Good for them. To quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own: “It’s supposed to be hard. It’s the hard that makes it great.”
3. I really love curling. I have played this sport all my life. But like many of the curlers around me, I have day job. And kids. And a mortgage. And yet we still throw rocks at odd hours, sacrifice our vacation time and a large part of our sanity to chase the dream and keep trying to make a Brier and be competitive. I think there are a lot of people like me, and yet I feel like the current system does little do support us, and in fact kinda discourages us. As an observer and as a player, I believe that a lot of what makes curling great happens at this level. The competitive teams from all parts of the country support spiels, and help develop the level just beneath them.
If we don’t try to save it, and only support the elite few with Slams, subsidies and sponsorship, then this level will die out. And I for one think that would be a tragedy.
I am not saying we need a revolution. Just maybe a little resource reallocation.
So – as I said in my last post:
In short, less events for the chosen few, more money poured into the next level down.
Okay enough about what is wrong – let’s talk a bit about what is right.
I spent the last week watching some of the Quebec Junior curling championships at my home club (Glenmore CC).
There was some excellent curling, some high drama and some serious shotmaking.
In the Ladies...
The tournament was won by Sarah Dumais from Etchemin CC, in a tough final over Lisa Davies from Glenmore. They looked like the better team in the final. They outplayed Davies for the last 5 ends of the game that I saw.
A very brave effort by Davies and her team. I was cheering hard for this team – Lisa and her sister Allison both have been curling in the ladder at Glenmore with the “grownups” for a few years now. I always respect juniors who recognize that they can learn and improve by playing against men’s/women’s teams. Davies made a ton of clutch shots all week to keep her dream alive...but ran out of big shots in the final.
In the Junior boys...
Adam Freilich beat Mark Fajertag in a very unexciting final that he won by a touchdown.
Far more interesting was his semi-final against Bornais. The game went to an extra end, but was decided in a bit of controversy:
Freilich had to draw the button against a counter back button with his last rock. His draw came up top button. His team thought it was good enough, but the crowd watching on the overhead camera were not sure. Before there could be a measure (and before Bornais’s 3rd could take a good look at it), Freilich kicked his own rock, claiming he heard the other 3rd say “1 Blue”. After much discussion, they decided to REPLAY THE END!!! Wow. My experience is always that if you kick the rock, you lose. But the officials made another call. I was not out there, so I do not know who said what, or how close it really was. But Freilich took one in the replayed end to win the game, and then goes on to win the next one to go to a junior nationals. Wow.
A few hours after losing the semi final – I saw that Ian South (who plays 2nd for Bornais) posted something on the Glenmore Facebook page. I admit I expected the worst. I expected a social media rant about the officials, about how it sucked to lose that way, about the injustice of it all...
Instead, he posted:
“Junior Provincials at Glenmore are over. A big thank you to all the volunteers and members who came out to support during the week. Thanks to Karl as well for the excellent job with the ice!”
Maybe there is hope for us after all.