Curling Returns To The 2018 Winter Olympics
The fun oddball sport Curling is back at the 2018 Olympics and fortunately once again, it’s getting airtime for viewers!
Curling might be a popular sport in other countries, but in the U.S. it’s still viewed as an awfully strange activity, let alone being classified as a sport.
Since Curling became an official competition at the Winter Olympics in 2006 it hasn’t been able to capture the full attention of viewers here in the states and still remains this bizarre event. If uninitiated viewers somehow do stumble onto the coverage of Curling they’re probably confused and asking themselves, “What is this??? Who thought of this game? How did this become a game played at the Olympics?”
I became a fan of Curling when they first started airing it during the 2006 Olympics. It lured me in. Sure, there’s a silliness about it and it doesn’t seem to be an Olympian demonstration of athleticism or gracefulness, but I still think it’s a heck of a lot of fun to watch.
I think it’s more exciting and would much prefer watching a game of Curling than one of these Olympic events where the winner is determined by 1/100th’s of a second.
At least with Curling you can actually see the victory take place in the competition, you can follow the score, rather than wait for the slo-mo videotape replay of the finish, compare stopwatch times or wait for a bunch of judges to score who the winner is. Yawn! The win and loss is right on display with Curling!
As unintentionally funny as it is, I love when they do highlight montages of Curling to open and close the broadcast. They have slo-mo shots of teams sweeping the ice, rocks hitting each other, closeups of faces screaming with excitement or dropping their heads down in defeat. And it’s all accompanied by that big booming dramatic Olympic music.
It just plays so comical how they’re trying so hard to present this as a tense all-important Olympic event. It’s kind of hard when the best highlights they can come up with is showing teams sweeping in slo-motion. It’s not like graceful skiers flipping through the air or skaters falling and eating the ice.
If they’re lucky they’ll have a shot of someone hitting their broom in frustration to add a real emotional flourish to it.
Every four years thanks to its Olympic inclusion, Curling gets some exposure to U.S. viewers. Along with seeing it listed in Olympic events, players pop up on talk shows, programs will do reports about it, rules will be explained and games are actually aired.
Near me there’s a Curling club – The Plainfield Curling Club. It’s one of the few in the area…maybe even in the state! I know it gets a little boost in attention every four years thanks to the Olympics. They’re trying to take advantage of it this year with an open house, where they teach you a bit about Curling and you get to try your hand at throwing some rocks. Sounds fun. Maybe it will be able to attract some new members this year.
It doesn’t seem like Curling can ever get out of the shadow of being pegged as this novelty sport – in the U.S. I’m talking about. Somehow it just doesn’t seem like it will ever make that transition of being fully embraced by Americans.
Other than that Curling club, I’m not sure where else any Curling fans can go to play it around here. It’s not like you and your friends can grab your rocks and brooms, go to the park and have an afternoon game. Maybe in colder states there’s more venues for it, but I don’t picture much Curling being played in inner cities in the U.S.
It’s too bad most of the Curling games are televised at very random times throughout the week. NBC gives them pretty lousy times, late at night or early in the morning. Curling really lucks out by getting featured in the afternoon on CNBC (as host Fred Roggin refers to it ‘Curling Nothing But Curling’. Other than that three hour spot, you really have to keep up with the schedule of when any other of the games air if you want to watch any more.
It also doesn’t help that NBC doesn’t devote it’s big network coverage to any Curling events, but rather one of their cable stations gets the honors. USA Network and NBCSN will be airing a few Curling games. I never even heard of this NBCSN station before, but luckily I have it, so my DVR is busy recording every Curling event that is making it to air. I think my DVR will fill up pretty fast with them.
I understand why it gets buried in the cable listings and NBC would focus on figure skating and more popular events for its primetime network coverage. It’s all about ratings and in the U.S. broadcasting a Curling game during primetime on its big station probably wouldn’t attract a large audience.
It would be nice though if they even aired a portion of a Curling game to its network viewers. Just show it for thirty minutes. Fifteen minutes! Give it something! Just a little showcase. That might help give the sport a bit of respectability and introduce it to millions of new viewers. One night of it being featured would probably be a bigger leap for Curling’s reach than folks who have to dig for it and find it at 3am on channel 212 or whatever it is.
It’s too bad Curling doesn’t get any kind of regular airplay between the Winter Olympics to help sustain its grip on U.S. viewers. Folks are watching all sorts of crazy sports here. Strong man competitions, wacky races, they’re participating in these mud races and obstacle courses. Guys who can swallow eighty hot dogs in a minute are revered. I don’t see why Curling would look that strange to anyone compared to timing lumberjacks cutting into logs.
Maybe Curling just isn’t for Americans. My prediction is that Curling will be played during these Olympics, fans will get into watching it and there will be a bit fun made about it. Norway’s loud, tacky pants will get talked about, amusing Curling hats will be pointed at in the crowd, the sport will get some jokes poked at it and Curling will get searched for on the internet by newbies wanting information and trying to make sense of the game.
Then when it’s all over, and after the U.S. fails to reach a gold medal (that seems to be the norm, Canada will clean our clocks again), Curling will fade away from U.S. airwaves not to be seen again for another four years.
Sadly, Russian Curling skip Anna Sidorova will not be participating in the games. She will be missed and not be there to help give the sport that extra touch of sex appeal. That can only help draw more attention to the sport. Hopefully another attractive Curler will step up and fill that gap during these Olympic games.