Sports ‘n’ Things: Olympics spoiling curling’s grassroots appeal

"End of the regular hockey season this weekend, along with the curling season..."

End of the regular hockey season this weekend, along with the curling season, which is winding up with an all-star bang all over the sports tube.

Perusing the year end ruminations of the curling powers that be was a bit disheartening.  The word is, “There is no more provincial loyalty,” says Kevin Martin. He means that the ungodly Olympics is now the only thing that matters to top level curlers and they will gather, forever after, wherever success at achieving access to the money – which is all that matters to Games organizers and participants – can best be optimized.

That might mean that the iconic Brier, our national championship for almost a century, will turn into just another cash spiel. No more will the hard slog of winning a provincial championship on the way to competing for our national one be a provincial/interprovincial quest. Instead, we are quickly heading towards a day when two or three provinces, with players from everywhere, will host all the teams involved in the pursuit of excellence.

That has been the trend for a while, with players from wherever joining teams from wherever else in the quest for cash prizes, including at the Brier and Scotty’s. It seems sad to me that no more will individual towns, big and small, have home grown curling heroes for whom to cheer, as Home of Champions fans have done for rinks headed by the D’Amours, Chessers, Stones, McGibneys and Hornings, to all of whom we felt a neighbourly connection, on their way to potential national glory.

I have little problem with people seeking cash rewards for whatever their efforts may be, but, it seems a terrible price to pay for those of us invested in our positive traditions to have those traditions martyred to the almight dollar.

Imagine if you will a national championship contested only by teams from, say, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, which is where the current path leads.  Given that it is a path paved with the gold of taxpayers and recreational players as well as sponsors, it is both a loss of a happy history, and history in the making, and a fraud on those of us who prefer spending our money and time on the more everyman nature of the the old ways of doing such things.

I would prefer it that the IOC, among the most corrupt and dishonest organizations on the planet, would just go away, or at least have diminished rather than increase influence on our recreational lives.

Apparently the powers that be, with avaricious competitors in tow, see it differently, and their vision holds sway over us mere spectators and supporters. Too bad.