Someone Please Explain To Me Why Curling Is An Olympic Sport?


“The Winter Olympics are once again upon us, which means we get to see our favorite cold weather sports unfold over three action-packed weeks of competition at the highest level.

And, of course, we get to watch a bunch of curling.”


Ok. So I’m patriotic and loyal and a devoted sports fan, so I’m “All In” when it comes to watching the Olympics (I watched curling last night!), but someone will have to explain to me why “Curling” is an Olympic sport. Do pray tell. I get that its played on ice. I get that part. But the brush the ice part and the yelling at your teammates part and the whole shuffleboard on ice part is where you lose me. I mean, it just seems like people in cold weather climates got bored to tears so that they began to invent games to keep themselves amused, if not warm.

As I always say, life is like sports and sports are like life. Some things you just can’t explain. They remain a great mystery. For those things that are beyond our grasp, it takes faith.  For it is only by faith that we understand the mysteries of life and the mysteries of God.The old saints said it like this; “we’ll understand it better by and by.” 

Anyway, here’s a Curling primer so that you (and I) can watch Olympic Curing with some level understanding, if not intelligence.

“If you’re like the majority of Americans, you just don’t get that weird game with the broom and the rock that you slide across the ice to try to hit a target while your teammates yell at you.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Pyeongchang games can be the year you finally understand the basics of this historic and quite challenging, if baffling, sport.

When Did Curling Begin?

Born in Scotland’s dreary winters, the sport of curling dates back to the 16th century.

Considered one of the world’s oldest team sports, early curlers gathered on frozen lochs and ponds to coax 40-plus-pound granite stones across the ice and into a target with the help of what, at least back then, were actual household corn brooms.

As Scots dispersed across the globe to places like Canada, the United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and New Zealand in the 19th century, they took the game with them. And as the game went international, its rules and implements became more fine-tuned.

Who Can Play?

The curlers themselves also became progressively more elite. While just about anyone can acquire the skills to play at a moderate level, veteran curler Dean Gemmell from New Jersey’s Plainfield Curling Club told that to be an Olympian — as with most athletes — curlers must start young and train hard.

“You have to be able to put the stones in the right place with some physical capability,” Dean said. “Most high-level curlers nowadays you’ll see are extremely fit.”

What’s That Broom For?

Corn brooms have given way to push brooms, which have since been replaced by the nylon sweepers with swiveling heads and fiberglass handles that you see today’s curlers using to laboriously slick path toward their circular target, or “house.”

The stone itself is 44 pounds of good, old-fashioned granite culled straight from the earth. The world’s best curling stones are cut from rock that comes from just one spot on Earth: a tiny hunk of land in the waters off Scotland called Ailsa Craig.

So How Does It Work?

The thrower starts in the “hack,” or foothold at the end opposite the house. Using a broom for balance in one hand, the thrower glides out of the hack and lets the stone glide away from the other hand at the perfect moment.

As the stone moves toward the house, the thrower wants its path to curve or “curl” toward the target, hence the name of the game.”

There; that should get you started. And if anyone wants to explain how this game turned “sport” rose to the level of Olympic competition, please do chime in.

5 thoughts on “Someone Please Explain To Me Why Curling Is An Olympic Sport?

  1. The process of becoming an Olympic sport is documented online but of course I don’t know the details. What I can say is that it’s a sport that’s widely played with a moderate level of parity across nations, it’s a team sport where every team member has to perform well on every ‘play’, it rewards experience and consistency above physical attributes and (perhaps most importantly) it’s very, very TV-friendly.

      1. It’s a common question. I think TV-friendliness was probably the key although other factors I personally find more compelling. But hey– money trumps practically everything. (Personally, I’d dump the sports that are decided by judges, not on the playing field. That’ll never happen of course because those are also ones with huge TV ratings.)

  2. I had an intro session to curling a couple of weeks ago. Like all sports, the experts make it look effortless. You have to get enough momentum behind a very heavy stone (we couldn’t get it to the quarter line to begin with, then threw it so hard it picked up too much momentum and hit the back wall). They have to judge when to let go, and how much to turn it by and where to place the ‘stones’. And this is done whilst performing a deep lunge (you’ll spot how close their bodies are to the ice) and keeping their balance. I opted out of sweeping when told to stand on the balls of my feet and keep my balance as it’s easy to fall over backwards!

    1. Jane – I’m from Philly I absolutely get the Rocky reference. As for the apparent lack of physical training, or the need for it, and the sucking down raw eggs, I second your motion. I don’t get it. In my humble opinion, it’s a game, not a sport. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment

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