Actually, Americans make very decent curlers, especially those in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The quality of the sportscasting, however, is such that Erin and I couldn’t help but laugh.
Like a few other bloggers in the Canadian blogosphere, I consider curling to be a more interesting and more national sport than hockey. I enjoy watching the CBC broadcasts of the Scotts Tournament of Hearts and the world championships. Curling, to me, is a game of skill and precision, not brute force. The intelligence required to calculate where to aim a stone, what force to put behind it and how to curl it, certainly equals the strength required to throw the stone and to sweep it. Similarly, I quite enjoy watching a good game of snooker.
But just as the commentary on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada is worlds apart from that of Fox News Sports, it was rather humourous seeing NBC Sports trying to put an interesting spin on the game. It was a game in the U.S. national championships, pitting the national team versus challengers from the state of Washington. The defending skips managed to make some spectacular shots to clear out the house and steal points in the fourth and fifth ends. To Canadian audiences and commentators, this would of course be exciting stuff, but the NBC commentators (with the exception of the expert they had on hand) didn’t seem to know quite what to make of what they were seeing.
NBC didn’t computer-generate red streaks behind the curling stones as they slipped down the ice (Erin’s suggestion; don’t look at me), but they did edit out all but the last four throws in each end, and they spent an inordinate amount of time explaining curling terms, and curling strategy. The expert was called upon to explain why the players had to turn the stones ever-so-slightly as they released them, what a hogline was, and a house, and even why the players swept the ice.
That last bit was actually quite useful, for Erin who isn’t very familiar with curling, and for myself who is not much better (despite having played a few ends in high school), and curling does have far more than its fair share of obscure terms. But as a whole, the NBC sportscast had the air of a network holding a new sport in its hands and uncertain what to do to make it exciting.
At the same time, the US curling associations knew they had a golden opportunity to introduce the sport to Americans and they gave it all they could. Unfortunately, they couldn’t give much in the way of money, and the resulting commercials that ran during the breaks, while their heart was in the right place, were somewhat comical.
Ah, well. You got to start somewhere, and if Americans catch onto curling, I’m happy to welcome them aboard. It’s not like the Fox Network and the Don Cherries of this world can turn this game into a slugfest… can they?
I’m certain that Kim and I are going to spend a couple of years in purgatory for this, as are you if you follow the link, but that’s nothing to what the maker of televangelist bingo is probably in for.
Still, God probably has a sense of humour.