As Olympic curling nears the end of its fourth day of competition, the sport is still struggling to gain respect. One Sochi-based reporter from the L.A. Times heard a Russian colleague getting ready to cover the action in the Ice Cube Arena say, “I’m going inside to learn how to sweep that broom real fast so I can make my wife do better in the kitchen.”
“That’s so funny, I forgot to laugh,” curling fans everywhere retorted.
But that’s not all. On Thursday morning, NBC Sports host Fred Roggin played to the curling skeptics while reporting on a hard fall taken by Russian skip Andrey Drozdov during the team’s matchup with Switzerland. “This should confirm curling is harder than it looks,” said Roggin. Possibly with a hint of sarcasm.
But curling fans — not to mention the curlers, themselves — already know the sport takes skill. Just because you don’t have to be in tip-top shape to execute the sport, doesn’t mean it’s easy or, worse, a joke. There are plenty of other sporting events that don’t require an Adonis physique: bowling, billiards, golf. When’s the last time someone laughed about Tiger Woods’s injuries? Or poked fun at a golfer’s equipment? After all, when golfers use those oversized putters, it kind of looks like they’re sweeping. And that’s hilarious, right?
But like that club and the motion used to put a golf ball in a hole, curling brooms and all that sweeping have a purpose, too. The sweeping makes a path in the ice that can control the direction in which that 40-pound piece of granite travels. And just like perfecting a golf swing, perfecting curling’s sweeping action takes practice and skill and it deserves a bit of respect. At the very least, give Olympic curling a chance before it inspires your stand-up schtick.