Curling?

Can somebody explain why curling is suddenly hot? It’s trending on Google, I’ve seen multiple excited blog and Twitter posts, and its even getting some primetime TV placement.

But nobody seems to be talking about why there’s so much excitement.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a hit piece or a “How can you enjoy that boring sport” piece. I’ve seen far too many of the latter aimed at baseball to ever go there myself.

Serious inquiry. Of all the sports in the Winter Olympics, why is curling getting so much of the love? It’s just my perception–I don’t have numbers to back it up, but by comparison with previous Olympics, interest in figure skating, skiing, and luge seem down, while I’ve already seen more talk about curling than in any other two complete Winter Games.

I suppose I’m not really asking any aficionados for an explanation. You’re part of the baseline of interest, not the current peak.

Maybe it’s because curling is a deceptively simple sport. One of those “easy to learn, difficult to master” things. Are people looking for something simple to understand in reaction to the increasingly baffling actions of our elected officials, who daily seem to become less inclined to act in their own best interests, much less those who elected them?

Perhaps the World Curling Association is running an astroturfing campaign. Will that be the next scandal to rock the international sports scene? Or is some other national or international sport group trying to raise curling’s profile to distract the public’s attention from their own problems–there’s certainly no shortage of candidates if your taste for conspiracy theories leans in that direction.

Is it just curling’s turn in the spotlight? A few months from now, will all the come-latelies be saying “Curling? Oh, yeah, I remember that. Does anyone still play it?”

Still, I’m no more immune to curling’s allure than anyone else. Whatever the reason for its current popularity, you can find me on the bandwagon.

3 thoughts on “Curling?

  1. well, i play so i may or may not be someone you want to hear from, but here’s my .02:

    television. and money.

    why? well, for one thing, it’s cheap. it’s possible to cover a curling event with two webcams, a laptop and a technician and, indeed, if you visit youtube you’ll see that happening. but even ‘real’ TV networks don’t need a lot of equipment — probably a couple of fixed cameras per game plus a handheld. plus some wireless microphones, which brings me to a second point — with the players wearing microphones, there is a LOT of, let’s call it ‘immersion.’ the players are RIGHT THERE and their thoughts and strategies are available to the commentators (who need not be on-site) and the viewers. there aren’t a lot of sports where that’s the case. plus (and TV really likes this part) there are natural breaks in play about every fifteen minutes for commercials.

    this means that television loves curling. so they show it. which means it’s there for people to see. and the evidence is that people watch it.

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  2. I curl. I am a slightly better than average sweeper. I am proud of this.

    I think this happens every four years … curling gets a little Olympic boost and I get to proudly puff up my chest and say, “I curl, I really do!” And, then I use the word bonspiel in a sentence and everyone smiles because bonspiel is a beautiful word.

    I think the additional major attention this year for curling is simply timing. The curling was front-loaded to the top of the Olympics — when people are hungry to watch everything and before Olympic fatigue sets in, which will come in a few days. But, the main reason this year, I believe, is because several major prime time events — skiing, etc — have been postponed due to wind and weather, which means NBC has to put SOMETHING on in their place. And, what better than an indoor sport? Just wait until all the postponed skiing and alpine events start up again in the next couple days … curling will “poof!” disappear from the prime time lineup.

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  3. You both make good points–though I should point out that the talk on Twitter started before the Olympics, which makes me suspect the weather was less of a factor.

    Over on Facebook, somebody suggested that curling’s current popularity may also have something to do with its appearances in Louise Penny’s books. I have to admit, I like the idea that writer might be responsible for boosting the sport’s visibility.

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