The Washington Post

Olympic curling still struggling to be taken seriously

Canada’s Ryan Fry, pictured above delivering a stone during against Germany Monday, defies a common curling stereotype one buff bicep at a time. (Ints Kalnins / Reuters)

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.

More Olympics news

Nicklas Backstrom trash-talked by his granny

Joss Christensen leads Americans into slopestyle finals

A viewer’s guide to men’s figure skating

Graphic: Winter speed demons (and curlers, too)

Farrington is surprise gold medalist in women’s halfpipe

Wise: Davis remains unfortunate exception at Winter Games

Dick Button agrees: Team figure skating needs to go

U.S. women’s curling on brink of elimination

Russia’s hockey team carries weight of a nation

Photos from Day 6 | 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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