Uppermost House: The puck stops here

PeterLewisTreehouseCMYKBy S. Peter Lewis
BN Columnist

I’ve endured the humiliation long enough.

I curl.

There, I said it.

Yes, curl, as in curling, that dramatic winter sport wherein men and women wearing silly pants and carrying brooms chase sliding rocks slowly down an ice rink. The sport they kept making fun of during last month’s Winter Olympic Games by saying things like, “For crying out loud, my grandmother could to that.”

To set the record straight and put a little of the sweat, gusto, and sheer athleticism back into my beloved sport, to return some of its burly legitimacy, to make you feel the pain, I’m going to compare curling with another winter sport which everyone agrees fairly reeks with body-wrenching, spittle-flying, anger-managed intensity: ice hockey.

Both sports are played on the same surface: in hockey it’s called a rink; curling is played on a sheet.

The goal of hockey is to shoot the puck past the goal line and into the net; curlers deliver a stone into the house and try to get it to land on the button.

Hockey players wield sticks; curlers hold brooms.

Hockey players wear skates on their feet with razor-sharp blades; curlers wear grippers and sliders.

Hockey players pass and shoot; curlers slide and sweep.

Hockey players wear all sorts of protective clothing including pads, helmets, mouth guards, and face shields to keep their bones from breaking and their organs from exploding; curlers wear street clothes made popular by George Jetson.

In hockey, the defensemen try to violently body-check their opponents by slamming them into the boards; in curling there are no defensive players, and while one team is delivering their stones, the opposing players stand quietly off to the side with their hands at their sides.

In hockey, when one player gets the best of another, he may taunt him, make a slur against his mother, and perhaps even punch him in the teeth (if he has any); when a curler makes a good shot, the opposing players all clap and shout praise and encouragement, and no curler has ever been in a fight.

In hockey, there is a penalty box for unruly players; in curling players are always courteous and well behaved.

In hockey, they sometimes have to suspend play so that blood can be wiped off the ice; in curling, someone may pick something up off the ice and say, “Hey, I think the cap on your broom fell off.”

In hockey’s most violent shot, the slapshot, the puck can travel over 100mph (and no one can see it); in curling, even the most aggressively delivered stone travels so slowly that if you leave to go to the bathroom you may still get back in time to watch the stone slide to a stop.

Hockey teams have names like the Sabers, Lightning, and Avalanche; curling teams are often named things like Men with Brooms, Sweeping Beauties, and Curl me Softly.

In the National Hockey League, there is a War Room in Toronto where games are reviewed; in curling there are no reviews, everyone just goes out to a restaurant after the game so they can all compliment each other on their clever shots and great sportsmanship.

In hockey, players are often called for tripping, spearing, slashing, and head-butting an opponent; in curling, opposing players never touch each other, except perhaps to give a pat on the back for a well-made delivery.

A hockey team is led by a captain; the person calling the shots on a curling team is called the skip.

In hockey, the game begins with a faceoff; in curling, the game begins with a handshake.

In hockey, the game ends at the buzzer and will go into overtime if the game is tied; in curling, the game ends when the final stone comes gently to rest and then everyone goes to a restaurant.

I could go on and on, but I think you get my point: ice hockey and curling (except perhaps for the attire), are basically the same sport. So next time your spouse says, “Honey, can you come here for a sec and look on the TV with me, I can’t tell if this is hockey or curling,” don’t give him a hard time. Just shout (nicely), “If you can see the puck, it’s curling.”

Please follow and like us: