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Playing for the Love of the Game!!!

Saturday Jan 24 2015

Friday evening at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, a young men’s team from Winkler was celebrated for winning one of CurlManitoba’s FAIR PLAY PRIZES from the Winter Youth Open bonspiel. They had returned home from the event in Winnipeg before the prizes could be presented – so what better place than to celebrate four young people than in their home town in front of a sell-out crowd.

The prizes are selected through team voting. After each game, the teams score their opponents (a simple 1-5 team score) in regard to such ‘old-fashioned’ traditions of the sport as fair play, sportsmanship, being supportive of teammates when they miss, congratulating opponents when they make a great shot.

The idea started a couple of years ago because CurlManitoba had some concerns that those ‘old-fashioned’ standards are disappearing in the sport. This was a way to re-inforce them for the new generation.

Logan Wiebe and his teammates Jaxson Wallace, Adam Unrau, and Jordan Klassen heard loud and spontaneous applause as their names were called. Granted, they were at home and a large Winkler crowd was congratulating their own but they were also congratulating four young curlers for showing that respect for the sport.
You’ll have your own opinions as to whether or not there is any real comparison to be drawn with the game between two former Manitoba champion skips whose Scotties game ended 4-3 after five ends on the morning draw Saturday. Understand that no rules were broken. CurlManitoba rules very specifically dictate that teams must play five ends.

As a lifetime volunteer, the questions I always ask of a decision like this one is how the action impacted the opinions of sponsors who support the local event or the provincial body; how the action impacted the opinion of the 300 volunteers who staged the event; how the action impacted the future decisions of the parents in the stands who were there were with kids who might or might not become future curlers based on their parents feelings about ‘that kind of thing’; how the decision impacted the opinions of  new fans who don’t really understand the nuances of curling but who bought tickets to watch four games of curling on a Saturday morning.

There is, however, a direct comparison with the game on the next sheet over. A team from Dauphin and one from Neepawa were playing a game which would determine last place. It went to last rock in an exciting, entertaining game. The teams had a long drive ahead of them – under the rules, they could have made the decision to quit and go home. They didn’t make that choice. They stayed for all the reasons that are implicit in my questions above. But more important they stayed, to quote the line from a Kevin Costner movie “for the love of the game”.

Did it matter that their standings were either going to be two teams at 1-6, and tied with the skip who conceded that 4-3 loss, OR one at 2-5 and one at 0-7? Not to anyone but them!

However, their effort to win that meaningless game tells me all I need to know about the character of these women and about their respect, and love, for the sport of curling.

* The writer is an ‘old guy’ – trying my best to follow the principles my father taught me and wondering if they still fit nearly 60 years after I learned to play and love the game.
* It is 30 years since I played seriously competitively. One Manitoba Tankard finalist prize hardly qualifies anymore as credentials to claim I understand the mentality of today’s competitive curlers.
* I am a Past-President and still a proud member of the CurlManitoba Board of Directors. However, this opinion or any other on this website should never be construed in any way as a CurlManitoba opinion. It is strictly my own – but I will stand by it in the Board meetings if it comes under discussion.
* The editorial position of this website has always been that I will publish a contrary opinion if you're willing to put your name on it ([email protected]). If you want to express opinions anonymously on social media - feel free. Again it is the old standard of the news business which I follow. To me an unsigned opinion isn't really worth reading.


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