Bienvenue, fellow crafters! As snow becomes the dominant conversation topic up and down the East Coast, it seems only appropriate to acknowledge our neighbors to the north, Colder USA, aka Canada. It’s a land I imagine in perpetual winter, in no small part due to the national fixation on ice-related sports.
Canadian favorite hockey, with its brutal fisticuffs and rapid-fire action, translates very well to American audiences. Second-beloved curling, on the other hand, gets at best mocking derision and far more commonly a confused ‘Curling? What’s that?’ Oh, you know, the sport where somebody hurls a rock and a bunch of people scrub little brooms in front of it, usually followed by a puzzled and/or angry look, and a rapid move to somewhere else in the vicinity.
Even I assumed curling was invented in the early 80s some dark evening after one too many beers, possibly some bong hits. Certainly the inspiration must have sprung from the depths of cabin fever. I mean, look at it:
But no! Curling has a long and storied history that begins, of all places, in Scotland. The very name of this week’s pattern, Bonspiel, means ‘curling tournament’ in old Scottish, and the earliest references to the game are from the 15th century.
(still looks pretty silly.)
History’s all well and good, but why watch curling? I’ll be lazy and let some curlers tell you:
Wow! Informative! However, the descriptions of the sport culled from Wikipedia’s page on curling also serve as a bullet point list of why the sport will never really catch on in America:
“More so than in many team sports, good sportsmanship is an integral part of curling. Even at the highest levels of play, players are expected to “call their own fouls”, so to speak, such as alerting the opposing skip if they “burned” a stone. It is also traditional for the winning team to buy the losing team a drink after the game. This is often referred to as the Spirit of Curling.”
“It is not uncommon at any level for a losing team to terminate the match before all ends are completed if it believes it no longer has a realistic chance of winning…When a team feels it is impossible or near impossible to win a game, they will usually shake hands with the opposing team to concede defeat.”
“Curling is a game of strategy, tactics and skill.”
It’s not just America though; curling doesn’t seem to have caught on much of anywhere:
“The 2002 Canadian film Men With Brooms…centres on the sport of curling, telling the story of a curling team from a small Canadian town…The film grossed over $4.2 million, all of it in Canada, making it the top-grossing Canadian English film subsidized by Telefilm Canada between 1997 and 2002.”
Those ain’t exactly numbers to brag about.
Still, curling seems a fun way to enjoy the brisk winter weather, so here’s a cozy cardigan to keep you warm while playing. Interestingly enough, white = official curling cardigan, any other color = regular boring cardigan with no real curling value.