Why relegation sucks the bag.
For those of you unaware what I am talking about, the competitive curling world has recently been introduced to the concept of relegation. In order to fit a Team Canada into the Brier, and in order to give Canada’s 3 Territories (Nunavut, NWT and the Yukon) a shot at qualifying for the Brier while still capping it at 12 teams, 4 teams will now have to play off in a mini-event 2 days before the Brier in order to qualify for the Brier.
The teams in relegation will be the teams with the fewest wins in the previous three Briers. Right now, this will be NS, PEI and the 2 “new” provinces, Nunavut and Yukon who have the fewest wins in the last three Briers.
By the way, the Mixed National Championship (of which I have played in the last 2) and the Scotties have both implemented similar policies. The Mixed has had relegation for 2 years, the Scotties will start next year.
So here are some reasons as to why this is HORRIBLE IDEA.
1. The Brier, and the Scotties are a unique Canadian tradition. Few other sports offer such a unifying, universal and inclusive National Championship experience. It is part of what makes the Brier somewhat magical. There are flags. There are provincial jackets. There are bagpipes. There are people with pins. There are fans with Moose Calls, fans with Yellow raincoats and guys who run around the arenas carrying flags. The Brier is more than a curling tournament, it is a reflection of who we are.
I know the “professional” teams, like Koe, Martin, Howard et al. will likely disagree, and say that their presence enhances the event, and we need to have the best teams in Canada represented. I call bullshit on this. People go to the Brier because it is awesome. There is enough quality and regional parity across the land to always ensure that 5-6 of the top teams in the world will always be there. To be honest, the curling is better in Slams, but the Slams are played in front of empty seats in small arenas.
And the Brier is a democratic playoff; you need to win to get there. You do not get invited because you are ranked high in the CTRS rankings. You need to beat everyone that has $300 and a dream. There is something magical about that. I think relegation goes against these basic principles, and seems to be trying to move the Brier in the wrong direction.
And if this is true for the Brier, than this is even more true for the Mixed National Championship.
2. It crates the all time shittiest event in Canada, the RELEGATION EVENT. I have seen it first hand at the Mixed. It is an awful, awful tournament. You have one bad day, and you have to go home IN SHAME. And you get to do it again next year. And to make it worse, they invite you to the opening ceremonies. You get to parade with your flag in your provincial jackets, and then you stand there and listen to the organizers tell you what a great week they have planned for everyone. Everyone except you. You get to go home, because you suck! Because your province was not good enough. And guess what, you had to take a week off work anyway, in case you won. So you get to go home, and feel shitty FOR A WEEK.
It’s like organizing the most fun party in the world, and telling some of your guests that they are only invited for the opening 20 minutes, then they have to leave before the fun starts. Better to not invite them in the first place!
How can we do this to people? This is just not what Canadians do. This is not how I was raised. It’s just plain mean.
3. It really punishes provinces for sending “rookies” to the Brier. Quebec is fortunate that it has been well represented for the past few years by JM who wins his fair share of games. But if I go back a few years to where an “underdog” won the province, Quebec would be in relegation territory as result. How does this make sense?
4. I like Nunavut. I have met the Mixed team from Nunavut, and they are awesome people. But can we agree that the 1 curling club located in their Territory should not give them access to a Brier, even a relegation spot? Can we find a better way to accommodate this one club?
And does anyone believe that Nova Scotia does not belong at the Brier? Jamie Murphy has had a tough week, but there are at least 5-6 quality teams in Nova Scotia that can at least be considered as playoff contenders at a Brier. Jeez, they won the whole thing 10 years ago. And yet, the way things are playing out, they will be in relegation next year. So we are one bad day away from not having any BlueNosers in the crowd at the Calgary Brier. That would be a travesty. Will Halifax be hosting a Brier any time soon?
In short, I can’t believe there are a bunch of people who sat around a table to try to make things better, and THIS is what they came up with. This is the best solution? What a pile of crap.
I find it IMPOSSIBLE to believe that this is the best way to do things.
I wrote a blog before Christmas that asked what the Olympic movement has done to competitive curling in Canada. A lot of people seemed to think that I was against the top teams in Canada being well sponsored and funded to curl.
I have nothing against the top teams. But I am suggesting that the CCA has maybe lost its way in terms of prioritizing the needs of the elite teams in Canada ahead of the needs of the larger curling community. Relegation is another shameful example of this.