On the Scoreboard

Curling commentary: It’s just such a trove of life wisdom, innit?

Maybe not every week, but it was exactly that a few weeks ago when Estonia (that well-known curling powerhouse?) was playing Canada (that other, and maybe even-better-known, curling powerhouse) in Women’s World Curling. Canada stole points (that is, they scored without having the advantage of last rock) in each of the first two ends: 3 and 4 points, respectively. I can’t claim that’s unprecedented, but it would be exceedingly rare at this level of curling. For perspective, teams work through an entire end to score at least two points when they have last rock, but are often held to just one point by the machinations of the other team. Indeed, games are often determined by a single point, so a lead of seven points qualifies as comfortable.

As this blow-out was developing, Joanne Courtney–who used to play for the same Canadian team that was dominating on-ice play, and who is now a commentator for TSN–said something along these lines:

At this point Estonia has to adjust their objective
[from winning, Ed.’s note]
to just getting on the scoreboard.

Did they get on the scoreboard? They did. When Estonia conceded after six ends (the minimum number of ends that they can play in this competition), the score was 9 to 4, Canada over Estonia. Later in the week, Estonia beat New Zealand to get one win in nine games.

We have almost daily over-exposure to the startling performances of world-class athletes in any sport–golf, football/soccer, basketball, baseball, even curling–and to the stunning performances of world-class artists in any genre–music, painting, dance, literature, even photography.

Joanne’s remark is worth remembering. Maybe we are over-matched in our endeavours: So be it. If the absolute best we can hope for is to get on the scoreboard or even just to play with integrity and dignity, then let us strive for that.


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8 Responses to On the Scoreboard

  1. Your astute insights into a game I know little about makes me wonder what the psychological effect on players may be of the scoring traditions of their various games. Golfers accrue points somewhat parallel to human years in lifespans. Basketball players do, too, with somewhat more latitude. Baseball and curling stick to the single digits. It seems to me a world of import lurks in these highly contested statistics.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – <[I] wonder what the psychological effect on players may be of the scoring traditions of their various games.> It’s a good point, and likely has its own academic niche. I pity the poor soccer/football players, where games can end (& often do) with a 1-nil score. Run like mad for however long it is, get kicked in the shins and ankles, and come away with one goal. Or none. Hockey is similar, but not quite as stringent in its scoring. Baseball is crazy, IMO: a game can end with one team not even scoring one night, only to get 10 or more runs the next night against the same defensive players but a different pitcher.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    Good insights, Isabel. Just keep in the game.

  3. Ken from Kenora says:

    Isabel, this story brings to mind a game in the old Winnipeg Arena, I took Mom into a World’s Curling Championship, twenty odd years ago. The powerhouse Canadian team skipped by Randy Ferbey was playing the Korean team from their fledgling program at the time. The game was well in hand for Canada quite early on. Korea scored a point at least half way through the game and the most heartwarming cheer arose from the crowd, all of the crowd. I think that members of Team Ferbey applauded. The Korean team bowed in appreciation. True curling fans were occupying the seats that day.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ken – That’s a delightful story, and nicely illustrates the dilemma of the opposing team, when faced with a much weaker opponent. Should you pull your punches or keep playing “your game”, trying to score as many points as possible, as you would usually? I think most powerhouse teams I’ve seen opt for playing as if they were evenly matched, taking the game completely seriously – thereby showing respect for their opponent.

  4. Lorna P Shapiro says:

    Love this observation… thanks.

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