February 22, 2010

Curl Your Enthusiasm

Wacky pants and swiffers - all part of the game.

I'm fascinated by curling, and have enjoyed watching it during the Winter Olympics. I can't quite explain why I am so enthralled by watching what my buddy PK is calling "Shuffleboard on Ice... What's next? Bingo on skis?"

And yet, I watch. But is it a sport? To answer that question, I go back to the criteria I spelled out in my very first post on this blog. How to classify curling? Hmmmm....

All athletic endeavors fall into one of the following four categories: A race, a game, a sport, or a judged exhibition.

It's not a race, although there is an element of time in curling - a team must complete all of its shots before their allotted time expires. Still, you get no advantage to finishing before your opponent, so curling fails to be included in this category.

Mercifully, it's not a judged exhibition either. It's hard enough to get those big stones to stop exactly where you want them too all the way on the other side of a sheet of ice without having to worry about style points. Curling is many things, but "artistic interpretation" doesn't enter into it.

So, we're down to a game or a sport. Since there is a highest possible score that can be reached, curling is a game. You can't get more than 8 points in an end, and even though that feat is nigh on impossible at this level of play, it still gives a ceiling to the competition. There reaches a point in many matches where one team's score is simply too high to beat, and as such, the trailing team simply concedes.

As unlikely as it is that a hockey team trailing 18-0 to Canada with ten minutes to go would be able to mount a comeback, the fact remains that they conceivably could pull off a true miracle on ice. That's what makes hockey a sport, but curling a game.

But so what if it's only a game... it's still fun to watch.

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