I am a curling fan. Always have been. The only thing I watch on television is curling and the rest of the year the television sits idle, and I occasionally wipe the dust off it. I used to watch tennis, and if I am being honest, I do sneak a peek at matches here and there when our Canadians are on the court. I grew up being a hard-nosed baseball fan, sneaking my transistor radio into the restaurant for my sister’s birthday dinner in 1972 when my beloved Oakland As took the World Series in seven games, with the Cincinnati Reds falling, again. Catfish Hunter was the winning pitcher, and my favourite Rollie Fingers recorded the save. The winning share in terms of earnings for the 1972 world series was $20,705 and in 2019 it was $382,385. But I digress. I’ll say no more on the subject, except that I divert my eyes in protest, because very few children have the luxury of ever attending a major league ball game, without needing binoculars to watch the game, when the ticket prices continue to climb. I watch curling.
By the time this collection of words and thoughts goes to print, the 2021 Women’s World Curling Champions will be decided. At the moment, as I sit at my desk and stew, Team Canada is struggling, and it seems unlikely though not impossible for Team Einarson to make the play-offs. I am ever hopeful. Kerri Einarson and I are related. Her great grandmother and my grandmother were sisters. I suppose they still are. I don’t think that allows me to take any credit for her curling skill, or does it, but it makes for good conversation. I’ve never met Kerri, but I like to pretend we often sit and discuss curling, her fearless approach to the game, and our ancestors. We don’t, but we could if given the opportunity. Isn’t that the same thing? Not quite, I suppose.
I pile a lot of responsibility on to the shoulders of Team Einarson and my other favourites, more so this year than other years. I need the win. I need to think that something I admire can prevail during this crazy mixed up pandemic, where absolutely nothing makes sense. Watching the women’s world curling championships feels a bit like watching a house catch fire though and knowing I can’t do a thing to stop it, I am obligated to look away.
Fans can be cruel, especially in times of social media where we have no obligation to identify ourselves when we are hurling insults and accusations, calling them comments when they are something far more sinister. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be inside the Calgary Bubble, obligated to move only between rink and hotel room, away from family, away from hugs and support while trying to represent Canada in a sport we are always expected to dominate, not hoped for, but expected, as though we have the right to demand such things. These curlers sacrifice a great deal to play the sport they love. They aren’t getting $382,000 for winning a world competition that actually is a world competition whereas the World Series is anything but. They follow an arduous schedule to get the chance to play in the grand slams and the world championships. Curling is a game of precision and skill and fitness, with an innate ability to understand the science of angles and ice, with only a modest financial reward for excelling, in a country where every province boasts a world class team. Maybe that’s why I love curling so much.
I will continue to cheer on my team these next few days and cross my fingers and my toes and whisper encouragement at my computer screen as I search for game results. I bargain with the universe saying things like – I think I could face another week in lockdown if only the sun would shine. I think I could face another week of my own company if only my tulips would bloom. I think could stop eating cookies three meals a day if only Team Canada would win. If only.