Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shock! Scandal! What will it mean for humanity?

The world is up in arms.  A curling scandal has erupted that might call into question the once and ancient sport of pushing a piece of granite down an icy path.  It turns out the star player was supposed to be the granite pusher, now technology has threatened to overshadow him and make the stars of the sport those guys standing on either side with brooms in their hands.  What will the world come to if such scandalous things are allowed to continue unhindered?!?

The broom, you might think, has little room for improvement. Take a handle and some bristles, fasten together, and enjoy a perfectly competent cleaning device.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but sometimes fame and fortune become the adoptive parents. As the sport of curling has professionalized since its reintroduction to the Olympics in 1998—that’s the competition where stones are slid along the ice with two players furiously sweeping the preceding terrain—the investment in broom R&D has gone up, too. (Independent of Proctor & Gamble’s Swiffer, mind you.)

Therein arose a problem: Broomgate, as it’s predictably being called. Until last November, the World Curling Federation hadn’t really regulated the type of brooms curlers could use. This is, after all, a sport that still mines the quarry of an uninhabited Scottish island for all its micro-granite stones.
In this vacuum of regulation arose something called “directional fabric,” which permits more extreme course-changing down the lane. One company in this market, Hardline Curling, touts its icePad’s patent-pending technology that brushes only the small ice pebbles atop the lane. The president of Balance Plus, an industry leader, responded in an open letter urging an unnamed company (cough cough, Hardline, cough cough) to “Do The Right Thing and stop using directional fabric.”

Any novice who’s stumbled onto a televised match has probably wondered how much control the sweepers really have in generating enough friction to change the stone’s trajectory. Well, as former world champion Glenn Howard told SportsNet in Canada last fall, “It’s a type of fabric that allows you to virtually steer the rock. I use the phrase ‘joystick’. I can now joystick right, left, forward, back.

“Up until 18 months ago, it was 80 percent shooter, 20 percent sweeping and now in the last year and a half, it’s become 20 percent shooting and 80 percent sweeping. It’s just not acceptable.
Stupid me thought that curling was invented by drunken Scandahoovians who had nothing else to do during the long dark winter of the northlands.  Turns out they were cultivating the true athletic competition.  This is, however, a sport any good Lutheran can enjoy -- fitness is not essential but an alcoholic drink is, ice is cheap and readily available, momma's broom is handy, and there is no shortage of granite.  Yup, this is just the kind of thing I could get into -- except for the fact that controversy and scandal have tarnished the cache of this sport.  I will have to wait and see where the ice dust falls before jumping on this bandwagon! 


John Joseph Flanagan said...

In reality, if history is our guide to the present, we will have very grave issues facing us in the years to come. The world is near the brink again, with tension between nations, economic, political, and social instability, and enough military technology to assure us of catastrophic casualties. As I watch the moral weakness of our country and culture imploding around us, I see no reason to be smug or satisfied with the direction of our nation and the world. While many millions stare into their smartphones and are consumed with social media and minor dissatisfactions of life, the real and grevious changes to our way of living are drawing closer. I say....we must all turn very very close to our God, because knowing Him and worshipping Him is the only certainty we can draw upon in the days ahead. I am no prophet, but I am a student of history, and history does repeat itself.

Anonymous said...

If we find out they are using ped's (performance enhancing drugs), this sport will lose all credibility.

Mabel said...

Enjoyed the story about the curling scandal. My old high school has both boys and girls curling teams. No staring at smartphones while sweeping the ice. Have not heard of any of the players going on to the big leagues of curling but they have fun. -- Mabel