Monday, February 22, 2010
An Olympic Revelation in Curling
Lately I've been watching the Olympics quite a bit. The other night it took me 2 hours to finish some homework that should have taken 15 minutes because I was trying to do it while I was watching speed skating and women's downhill skiing.
One of the things that I think is awesome about the Olympics is how I'm able to pay attention to sports that I don't care about. I don't think there is a single sport in the Winter Olympics that I take time out of my day to watch any other time of the year. But there's something about the international stage that makes every sport very important to me. Literally anything. If we don't win Ice Dancing, shame on us! How dare we let another country out-dance us...on the ice...of all places! When we beat Canada in hockey, a sport I have actively tried to ignore my entire life, I swell with pride. Even the Visa Olympic commercials beat my emotions to death. Lock me in a room with a TV airing Visa Olympic commercials featuring stories on how Olympic athletes have overcome diversity interlaced with American-winning Olympic medal ceremonies and you will find me a tear-stained, emotionless pile of pathetic the next day.
One of the sports I don't care about is Curling, but thanks to the Olympics, I desperately wanted the U.S. to win. Surely there is something in the core of all Americans that should make us superior at sliding a slab of granite across a sheet of ice. If I know anything, I know that. Unfortunately, this year's team left that somewhat untapped, and last I saw, got beaten pretty soundly by some team from Scandinavia, where children begin sliding things across the ice before they learn to walk.
The thing about Curling is that I cannot interpret the rules at all. I thought it had something to do with getting the granite block to the center of the blue circle. But 95 percent of the time they are just sliding it way short of the blue circle, and talking about, "blocking" the other team. But they do this even when the other team is already way closer to the blue circle than them. So you would think they would try to get closer to the blue circle...right? I have no idea. And I don't have a clue what the red circle is for either. And finally I realized -
I don't think there is a single person that is involved with this sport who actually knows the rules.
That's right, I think pretty much everyone who has anything to do with this sport has no idea what is going on. But they've all been doing it for so long, that they are all too embarrassed to finally admit that they don't know the rules. So although no one knows the rules, they are terrified that everyone else but them knows what is happening. The second a person makes it on the Olympic Curling team this thought crosses their mind: "Oh crap...how long can I keep this up!?"
Luckily for them, no one else knows what is happening either. So pretty much the whole sport is based on reactions. As long as you do anything, literally anything, in this sport, the only real trick to scoring well is to react positively:
Player: Yes! We did it! We totally bounced the granite block thingy against all the walls and...then...we swept it around for a bit. And that was awesome! (Oh man...I'm so screwed...this is the moment they finally realize that I'm a total hoax.)
Judge: Right. Well done. You get a bunch of points. (Oh man...this is it...they're going to find out that I have no idea how to score this game.)
Player: Oh...oh, well of course. Thanks. (Phew.)
Judge: Oh...yeah...well you are welcome. (Phew.)
Here are a few bits of photographic evidence on what is going on in the minds of the people participating in Curling:
This is a perfect example. You can completely tell that the guy in the bottom right is looking up at his teammate, thinking: "Does he look happy...yes...okay, what we did was good." What he doesn't know is that the whole team is looking at each other trying to figure out how the others felt about that last play. In this example it seems like they all got on board that whatever they had done was a good move.
In this picture, the woman is thinking, "I have no idea what I have just done...what in the hell am I going to do?"
Look at the expressions of uneasy relief. What they are trying to say with their body language is: "Oh yeah, I totally won this gold medal for Curling. You know, it's quite technical, a lot of pushing stuff around on the ice. But I totally won."
What each of these guys--especially the guy to the far right--are actually thinking is, "I have no idea what has just happened. I swear this is my last Olympics."
In 2014 I'm totally going to try out for Curling. I'm sure I can sell each move. After every push of the granite, every sweep of my sweeper thing, I would stand up with a, "Yes! I totally rocked that last thing I did," while I skate around the ice pumping my fist. I will be a Curling gold medalist.
Final Note: Please take a moment to vote on the attached Olympic Curling Poll on the ride pane. If not for me, then for science.