January 21, 2011
Women in the MCA?One way to increase participation
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
The topic of possibly adding women to the MCA Men’s Bonspiel generates plenty of opinions.
In a quick survey on Friday afternoon at Fort Garry Curling Club, two were in favour of the move and another sort of was — just not yet.
The bonspiel is celebrating its 123rd birthday this year, and Curl Manitoba is toying with the idea of allowing females to enter the 125th bonspiel in 2013 to boost the number of teams, which this year has dwindled to 384.
Lynn Coleman, who plays out of the Pembina club, doesn’t want to mess with tradition just yet.
“One hundred and twenty-five years,” Coleman said, somewhat wistfully. “I would have to say if they want to do it, do it after the 125th.”
If Coleman has a concern with adding females, it’s that there would be the chance for a women’s team to eliminate a men’s squad from Safeway Championship contention.
“If the likes of Jennifer Jones comes in and knocks off some of these guys, it’s not going to sit very well,” Coleman said. “The other question is if they’re going to allow that, are they going to allow the men into the women’s bonspiel?”
Lionel Bernhard, who plays for Victoria’s Jim Conacher and has competed in the bonspiel more than 25 times, has absolutely no issue with women joining the fold. Coincidentally, he was on an MCA Bonspiel committee that discussed the issue several years ago.
“There were some guys who really thought this was a bad mistake, but I don’t feel that way,” Bernhard said. “The more you can do to make it a more social event, the better.
“I’d have no qualms about getting beaten by a women’s team or whatever. If you get beat, you get beat.”
Former world men’s champ Vic Peters isn’t competing this year, but has many times in the past and would also welcome the other gender to the world’s biggest bonspiel.
He figures not many women would want to play in the MCA, but he understands why they might get invited.
“If you look at the demographics here, look at how many guys there are over 50 — like 60 or 70% on draw after draw that comes through here,” he said. “I see so many old guys. That’s why those numbers have gone down so dramatically, because there’s not young guys to replace the old guys.
“As guys get my age and older, they tend not to want to do the big party thing. How many nights can you go, right? I can go maybe one night hard, and then that’s the end of it.”
Peters also believes the provincial men’s berths should still be up for grabs, even if women are thrown into the mix.
“There’s guys that come from the States and guys that have spots that aren’t eligible,” Peters said. “So I can’t see why it would make any difference.”