Is the ‘spirit of curling’ become meaner?


Sweden’s skip Niklas Edin slams his broom after his final throw in a loss to Britain in the men’s curling semifinal on  Feb. 19. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP)

If you’re looking for a referee job, you’ll have to look somewhere other than curling clubs. They’re not hiring. In fact, they’ve never been hiring. That’s because the sport already has something called “the spirit of curling.”

Printed on page 1 of the World Curling Federation’s official rule book, “the spirit of curling” acts as an honor code, a kind of philosophical creed for players of the game:

“Curlers play to win, but never to humble their opponents. A true curler never attempts to distract opponents, nor to prevent them from playing their best, and would prefer to lose rather than to win unfairly. … While the main object of the game of curling is to determine the relative skill of the players, the spirit of curling demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling and honourable conduct.”

So ingrained is this “spirit” in curling, that to ignore it would alter the game, for both players and its fans. While a curler throwing or slamming his broom on the ground after a bad shot may be dramatic, or even thrilling, to the audience, some say that such aggressive actions are detrimental to the sport.

Britain’s coach went on the record Thursday to voice his concerns about certain recent behaviors he’s noticed, calling out the Canadians, just a day before Britain was to meet them to curl for the gold medal.

“The aggressive style we have seen from the Canadians here, that’s something I don’t like about the sport. I don’t think it helps anyone,” Soren Gran told The Winnipeg Free Press. “It doesn’t help the player and it doesn’t help his teammates.”

But this begs the question: Did Gran himself stray from the spirit of curling by calling out his opponents before a match?

Even if he did, it didn’t seem to rattle the Canadian men. Skip Brad Jacobs shook off the remarks, wondering aloud to The Winnipeg Free Press if “they’re intimidated by us.”

Well sure, if you’re planning on throwing or slamming your brooms everywhere! Referee, call a foul! Oh, wait…

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A medal-round cheat sheet for men’s curling

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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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