Sunday, 7 February 2010

Officials and The Anarchy of Curling

Imagine no officials.  I wonder if you can.  No need for flags nor whistles.  No threat of life-time ban.

Hey.  That's curling!  It's about the only self-officiated team sport that I can think of.  Sure, golf and darts have that "genteel" essence too, but on the sheet of ice, the curlers rule.  Even in the so-called officiated play, like at the Olympics, the umpires and officials just sort of hang out, walking around, sitting, standing, keeping an eye on the game.  There's really nothing much for them to do.  They help with the scoreboards.  They keep track of the rock positions in case someone wipes out by accident and they have to put a stone back where it belongs.  Stuff like that.

And the players get the officials to measure rocks for them, if they can't tell who is closest to the T.  Sure that makes sense, but it's not as if the officials are enforcing a rule.  And in the olden days they tried to have folks guarding the hog lines, peering down to catch a player's finger cross so they could haul the rock out of play and drastically disrupt the game.  Technology solved that with the electronic hog line that flashes a RED light in the rock-handle when the curler crosses the line.  Same with the time clocks.  Teams know they get 73 minutes each per game.  Limiting the time helped with TV coverage, and the players don't mind.  Technology now enforces a couple of the rules but the players are still in control of their own game.  The players know how to play within the rules without "interference" by any so-called officials.  In fact, if there is any sort of violation, like sweeping early, or double clutching the stone, or even burning a rock (touching a moving or stationary stone) it is up to the players to confess or accuse their opponent and then try to solve the problem (and 99.9% of the time, they do so, very quickly).  If they absolutely cannot agree then they can turn to one of the official by-standers to help them adhere to the rules for this most unusual situation.  Curling is like no other sport.

Sure, the rules are there, but there are no enforcers, so I think is the perfect sport for Anarchists.  Because in curling, the game is played without outside influence, it really is something that is under its own control. Both teams know the rules and conduct their game.  There is nobody breathing down their necks.  They watch each other and if necessary, call violations on one another.  It works fine.  That's why the Anarchists love curling.

Though the Olympic Games has garnered its share of protests, the Activists and the Anarchists are just as excited about the games as anyone else. What a great opportunity to come out and protest the opulence and the so-called political corruption and the abuses that may have been suffered by displaced people or by business entrepreneurs who couldn't network themselves onto the right side of VANOC.  Lots of people will be coming to the gala to let it be known they are not in favour.  What fun!  Everyone together for a cause!.  Hmmmm.  That is just like the Olympics.  So, welcome one and all.

And to the Activists who need a break from their protests and marches, and the Anarchists who need a break from their apathy or dissidence, hey, come and hang out at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.  Our game if full of all kinds..  It is the best game on the planet, bar none, and you are so welcome to help us find our champion.  In Curling, it is anybody's game... rich or poor, young and not so young, anyone can hit the button on any given day.  There have been attempts to quash curlers who in someone's eyes, did not conform on some arbitrary standard, but more often than not, the dispute was solved on the ice and the curler rose to the top by winning a few more games.  Just ask Andrea Schöpp or Gail Munro.

You may say I'm a dreamer.  But I'm not the only one.  I hope someday you'll join us and the world will play as one.  (Thanks John.)

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