There should be no shame in loving the game of curling


A fan waves a Russian flag during the round-robin match between Russia and Japan on Feb 12. (Tatyana Zenkovich / EPA)

There are two types of curling fans in the world, or at least on the Internet. There are those who proudly proclaim their love of the sport, including yours truly. We’re the ones who take to social media to show their affection, adding to the cache of #lovecurling tagged tweets. (Incidentally, that hashtag started off as a way to cheer on the U.K. teams, but is now morphing into a general mantra for curling fans everywhere.)

And then there are the more cautious fans. These fans seem unsure whether it’s socially acceptable to like curling. If they’re bold, they’ll tweet things such as, “pssst..don’t tell anybody, but i LOVE me some #curling” or “Really want to get into Curling but I’m afraid it’s the sports version of wearing a fedora.”

Getting past that last tweeter’s negative views of Humphrey Bogart’s signature headgear, his words bring up an interesting point about curling’s current place in modern culture and illuminate one reason why people feel tentative about getting into the sport.

Like wearing a fedora, perhaps, saying you’re into curling can be seen as a sign that your interests — and you — fall outside of mainstream culture. For some this is good and even more reason to be into it, but for others this is scary.

The Seinfeldian summary of the fear might be, “I want to get into curling, but then I have to become a fedora guy!”

It’s true, curling — at least in the United States — is still very much a niche sport. But that’s beginning to change, largely in part because more people are tuning in. Even the Washington Nationals watched some of the competition this year.

Curling has also become a popular meme during these games, spawning viral videos such as “Cat Curling” and a nature documentary parody, featuring commentary by Sir David Attenborough.

While, sure, these videos poke some good-natured fun at curling, they also raise curling’s Q score, or how familiar people are with the game. Rarer now are questions that ask what curling is. The main question now is, “How do you play?” (Or still sometimes, “Why is curling an Olympic sport?” But that’s being settled.) In short, curling is on its way to becoming mainstream.

Bold prediction: If the United States can field a respectable team in the 2018 Winter Olympics, even Kim Kardashian will be tweeting about her favorite curlers.

More Olympics news

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Kim Yu-na is a cut above after the women’s short program

U.S. women lose bobsled lead but still claim silver and bronze

Hockey: United States and Canada win and will meet in semifinals

Alex Ovechkin, Russia eliminated from Sochi Olympics by Finland

Analyzing why Russia went out with a whimper

The world reacts to Russia’s hockey loss

How did American Vic Wild win a medal for Russia?

Ted Ligety fills only void in giant slalom résumé: Olympic gold

Bode Miller says knee may force him out of slalom

Photos from Day 12 | Daily TV schedule | U.S. medal winners

Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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