Sport of curling keeps 'fun' in the fun house

CON GRIWKOWSKY -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

There used to be a time where writing sports was all about having fun.

Believe it or not, sportswriters actually made more money than the athletes they covered. Not in my time, of course.

They could sit down for a beer and felt compassionate when they bought a round for struggling athletes.

Oh, you could still uncover gems in the never-ending search for a scoop once in a while.

For instance, when current Oilers coach Craig MacTavish stood out as only one of two NHL players who played without a helmet.

"There's nothing here to damage anyway," said MacT, pointing to his noggin.

Or, the year goalie Grant Fuhr and tough guy Dave Semenko made a bet about who would score more points that season. Fuhr won. Everybody laughed.

Yeah, those were more simple days when reading a sports story didn't require a degree in quantum physics. And, when mere excellence, not perfection, was the prevailing standard.

That's why I love covering curling.

Fun is still what it's all about.

It was a love affair that started back in 1986.

Yeah, it's my 20th anniversary covering this wacky sport, and it continues to be magic.

CHARACTERS AND PERSONALITIES

Befitting the spirit of the season, there were plenty of presents for a scribe looking for great quotes at the men's city playdowns this past weekend. Curling rinks are full of characters and personalities.

That's so unlike many of today's 'professional' athletes - give or take a Jeremy Roenick or Brett Hull - who are encouraged by their bosses to reveal all the personality of a wallhanging.

"Comedy is what we do, curling is just a sideline," said Jamie King, skip of the two-time Alberta runners-up ... in curling.

There's always an appropriate line somewhere in the game's lore.

When Shane Park blew his stack after a rock burned by lead Daryl Huff cost the rink a game Park had almost singlehandedly won ...

Park accused members of the Collin Herbers team of age-related desperation, a win-at-all-costs attitude. He wondered why Brad Hannah, who Park tabbed Mr. Etiquette, did not display the sportsmanship Hannah purportedly stood for.

"The only other option would have been for the offended team to let it stand and let the other team win," said Jack Winter, who allowed the on-ice call to stand.

LEGENDARY FIST-SHAKING INCIDENT

Yeah, as if that's going to happen. Only a repeat of a legendary fist-shaking incident would have made this situation more interesting.

It brought to mind that classic T-shirt philosophy displayed by Bernie Sparkes: "Old age and treachery beats youthful enthusiasm every time."

You couldn't make this stuff up.

And, that was just the first day of a fairly active weekend chronicling human drama on ice.

In other news, Randy Ferbey remains the only cashspiel rink to win over 100 grand this season.

After winning $12,000 at the Canadian Open in Winnipeg, he's now pocketed $120,849. But, enough about money.

The Last Chance Spiel goes this weekend at the Crestwood.

Now, that should be fun.


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