Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Simple, Reasonable, and Ultimately Workable Proposal for Future Winter Olympics --And Why It Will Never Happen


What's your favorite Winter Olympics sport?  If you didn't say curling, I feel only compassion for you.  There's no winter sport as pure as curling.  Skill in skiing and skating could save your life someday, when you're being pursued by a pack of starving wolves.  Tobogganing is great fun.  Winning the biathlon might well help your career in the military.  But curling is done only for the love of shoving a big rock with a handle on it across the ice.  Curlers don't care that you've never heard of them.  They don't care that you can't make heads or tails of the rules or that while they're out there sweeping their hearts out, all the world is staring at them in baffled indifference.

Like I said, pure.

So the other day I was talking with my son Sean and the Olympics were on in the background and I said something about it being Women's Curling.  "Why women's?" he asked.  "Men don't have any advantage in curling.  Weight, strength, whatever, don't matter.  Shouldn't it just be curling?"

And for a second, something thrilled inside of me.  Yes!  Mixed-gender teams, coincidentally-single-sex teams, all competing in a feminist ideal of equality.  It would work.  It can work.  There's no reason why it won't work.

Save one.

"It'll never happen," I told Sean.  "And I can prove it to you in three words."

"What are they?"

"Half the medals."

"Ah," he said.

Oh, well.  We can still watch the Winter Olympics and enjoy the thrills and agony that are curling.  Which is undeniably the single best winter sport there is.

Except for sex.  Which is best practiced in private anyway.

And relevant to absolutely nothing . . .

Do you know what the chief vice of writers is?  Aside from the obvious sex-related ones, I mean.  It's going onto Amazon and checking the standings of their books.  Apparently, there are writers out there who check their sales stats as many times a day as you check your emails.

Well, Homey don't play that.  I've never checked my stats because I know it would only depress me.  Shakespeare STILL outsells me?!  How is that even possible?

But I do occasionally check the function which shows how many visits this blog has had in the past month from every country in the world.  So I can see that in the past month I've gotten one hit from Ulaanbaator (hi, Molly!) or possibly four from Kolomna (big shout-out, Alexei!).  I can see that my friends in one particular country can only rarely get past the Great Firewall of China, since even though I am very careful never to post anything here that would make their government angry with me, Blogspot.com is routinely blocked as a place where dissidents might gather.

My point being that those of you who check in from the remoter and less-wired corners of this glorious Earth are doing more than just satisfying a momentary itch of curiosity.  You're making me feel connected to places I may never visit but often hope I will.

For which I most sincerely thank you.



Pat J said...

...They don't care [...] that while they're out there sweeping their hearts out, all the world is staring at them in baffled indifference

Fixed that for you.

I remember curling when you really had to shout to be heard over the whap-whap-whap of the brooms, back before the little lint brushes came into the picture and made it a much quieter sport.

Unknown said...

[about mixed teams and no gender advantage]
It isn't exactly right sentence :) Cause physical strength is also important for curling. Usually you can't see powerful slides, but there are some tactical positions where male surely has advantage due to more muscles :) (when one team needs to clear several opponent's stones)

gg said...

I have the solution: keep the men's and women's teams and have another team with the best players from the men's and women's teams and have even more medals.

Michael Swanwick said...

More medals for curlers?! I am so there. Thank you, Ed, for coming up with the perfect solution.

I spent a good fifteen minutes checking dictionaries and websites and I'm still not sure about the brooming/sweeping thing. Brooming is a legitimate word and a great one. I'd hate to surrender it for a lesser word just because it's technically the correct one. Maybe I can get away with the "I'm an American idiot" defense?

Unknown said...

It should be 'brooming'. You could make the argument that in American English is it 'brooming' instead of 'sweeping', since you might be one of the only Americans to have ever spoken about curling at all, so your usage coins the phrase for all American dictionaries to follow. But then you might be out-cooling Canadians on another winter sport, and that's just brooming insult up to injury. The NHL might already be American, so you gotta leave Canada *something*, alright?

David Stone said...

Another cool thing about curling is that this year there was at least one women's curler who competed while pregnant. The talking heads on TV tell me this is not the first time a pregnant woman has competed in the Olympics, so I'm guessing that in addition to curling it happens from time to time in accuracy sports such as archery or an airgun events.

Michael Swanwick said...

Okay,you've convinced me. I've changed it to "sweeping." Canada may not have invented it, but they own the sport. And when have Canadians ever been anything other than generous and warm-hearted to me?

I would've guessed that advanced pregnancy would throw off a woman's aim with a rifle for Olympic-precision shooting. But on reflection, maybe not. I'm going to have to ask a serious markswoman about that someday.

Pat J said...

If you broom the ice, then you broom your kitchen floor, too.

For the record, I am Canadian.