Once every four years, the Winter Olympics come and people talk about curling for two weeks as this cute little quirky sport with brooms and commentators with funny Canadian accents. The popularity of it has grown, and I know tons of people who enjoy watching it during the Olympics.
But what kind of ticks me off (as a long-time curling fan who watches it online every chance I get) is how people can view it as this quirky, niche semi-sport (more like a bar game) and then rip the US team to shreds for sucking in Vancouver the last week.
You can’t have it both ways: It looks easy, but it’s not. And these aren’t like the hockey players, who’s full time job is their sport. Rip Canada Hockey, who’s STACKED and should win the gold because the NHL salaries of their team is $130 million, more than the bottom eight teams in the tournament COMBINED.
The curlers aren’t even like Shawn White, who has sponsorships, endorsements and gets paid to appear in TV events like the X-Games on ESPN.
There’s very little sponsorship money out there for curlers. The women’s team is wearing Nike uniforms at the 2010 Olympics, like these blue ones:
They are Nike’s women’s volleyball uniforms…and they are their 2008 line:
The US team is basically self-funded by its members. US Skip (that’s captain, strategist and most often, last thrower) John Shuster is a bartender. One member of the team is quitting because he has a family to support and can’t afford to pay his own way to the big events the team needs to participate in to be good.
One of their fundraising methods was playing at a Curling Club in Minnesota, against anyone willing to walk up and fork out $40 to take them on.
So yes, John Shuster and USA men’s and women’s teams had a crappy showing among the top 10 teams in the world in a sport they participate in part time as a hobby. China’s teams are government funded (like the USSR hockey teams of the 70s and 80s).
Of course, the popularity of curling right now is really something the USCA has failed to capitalize on. Why they didn’t come out with a series of witty and awesome t-shirts/gear people can purchase online to help fund the program is beyond me. The commentary of curling (I’ll have a post on that later) is borderline dirty and full of potential double-entendres.
You can find curling t-shirts online at random places, why can’t USA Curling sell some cool shirts with slogans on them like:
Rock The House
I Throw Rocks at Houses
Curling Takes Stones
Wanna Get Stoned?
Rock N’ Roll
Throw The Heater
If Hell Freezes Over We’ll Curl There
On The Button
My Other House is 24 Feet Wide
I Sweep But I Don’t Do Windows
Cute as a Button
Curling is only in people’s consciousness once every four years, and with they quasi-annual cult-following the have during the Olympics, now is the the perfect time to get more money for their program with cool merchandise.