Saturday, February 11, 2006

If Al-Qaida Had a Curling Team...

Why is curling the butt of so many snide remarks by so many people who appear to know so little about the sport?

Jason Moring, writing for Slate, titles his latest, "If Al-Qaida Had a Curling Team..." But nowhere in his article does he develop that specific thought. Rather, his article points out that the war on terror is different from the Cold War because the enemies of the U.S. don't try to use Olympic competition to further their political agendas, at least not much -- not the way the USSR and East Germany used to.

The only time he mentions curling is
The fact that al-Qaida has been slow to organize an Olympic movement should be a cause of great embarrassment to them. From their training videos they seem pretty adept at running on logs and swinging from monkey bars. Surely, they are in curling shape.
Tell you what, Jason. You go out on the ice and sweep for ten ends twice a day. Do that and, in between sweeping, slide a rock down the ice with just the right speed so it goes the desired distance. Curling is a game of finesse, skill, and strategy.

To make matters worse, he links to this old Slate piece by David Plotz, which says the following about curling:
Curling combines the worst of shuffleboard and housekeeping. The contestants use brooms to sweep a path on the ice for a sliding stone. According to The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics, 94 percent of curlers are Canadian. Enough said.
And people wonder why there is so much anti-Americanism in Canada?

If you don't understand the physics and the strategies of the game, curling does look pretty strange, and maybe even boring I guess. For all of you who don't know this, sweeping in front of the rock affects how far it slides and how much it curls. Good curlers can make a shot curl around another one, making it difficult for the opponent to score. But doing so takes good skill and judgement.


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