Curl it

My 100th blog post!

(This column appeared in a recent edition of my hometown newspaper the Devils Lake Journal in Devils Lake, North Dakota)

I love the Olympics, along with many folks around the world. I enjoy it for lots of reasons, including the opportunity to watch sports for a couple of weeks that you only view every four years such as curling.

curlingWhen I was growing up in Devils Lake, we used to go curling as part of our high school physical education class. I enjoyed it, partly because it was an opportunity to do something a little different outside of the gym even though most of us didn’t really know how to curl. One of my classmates remembers during these PE curling outings some of our fellow students flinging the rock down the ice as if it was a bowling ball and going a little crazy with it. And then there was the whole sweeping the ice to make the rock go faster (if I remember right that was the idea). I know we also had curling teams but I am not sure if they were affiliated with the high school.

Even though curling has received more exposure since it became an Olympic sport in 1998, I think it’s safe to say that a relatively small percentage of Americans can say they have ever curled. I used this to my advantage some years back when on a business trip Austin, Texas, several co-workers and I got stuck in traffic for hours on the freeway due to a bad accident. To pass the time, we decided to play a game of “guess what thing I am thinking about.” I am not sure if that’s the official name of the game, but it’s where you think of a word and people ask you yes or no questions until someone figures out the word. I asked my two co-workers to guess what sport (curling) we did in high school PE in North Dakota. My co-workers asked lots of questions but they never did guess curling.

There was recently an article in the Wall Street Journal that was, believe it or not, called “Curlers: They’re Not So Fat Anymore.” It was about how the sport of curling has changed in recent years. Apparently back in the day it was typical for curlers to be rather out of shape and often a little on the chubby side, chain smoke throughout the game and for the winning team to buy the losing team a round of beers. Now a days more and more curlers are healthier and take pride in staying fit to improve their game and are forgoing the cigs and suds. In fact the name of the Canadian men’s curling team, who are expected to take gold at the Sochi Olympics, is The Buff Boys.

The article said the need for buff bods doesn’t sit well with some of the old time curlers, who claim a high level of fitness isn’t necessary to curl well. I disagree. I think no matter what the sport being as healthy and fit as you can be makes you a better athlete. So you go Buff Boys. I’ll be watching.

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