Living in Detroit, it's hard not to develop an appreciation for things Canadian. One of those things for me is the sport of curling, which I learned to love while watching it on the CBC (that's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for you neophytes) when I was in my teens. I've played for years now. It's not merely that the game itself is grand, but in playing I've discovered that, of all sports, curling is the most sportsmanlike and curlers are great people. At all levels.
As an example of this, I'll never forget a curling tournament in Windsor, Ontario I had quite a thrill: I was lucky enough to meet David Murdoch, a Scot who has now been the World Curling Champion twice: in 2006 and 2009. He was walking right past me and I said, somewhat stupidly I'm sure, "You're David Murdoch!" He replied, with huge grin, "I am! And who might you be?" We went on to talk for several minutes about curling as a friend snapped a picture of us. Too cool.
Though he was the only one I was fortunate enough to meet up close and in person, it demonstrated that virtually every curler at virtually every level is very approachable. The reason is simple: every curler is an ambassador for the game, and even the top ranked ones know and accept that. They are sportsmanlike on the ice yet, more importantly, sportsmanlike off the ice.
Murdoch could blown me off. He unfortunately had a poor tournament and there's a degree to which I would have cut him slack had he been terse in our meeting. His team had been eliminated by that point, and at 11 PM on a Friday who could have blamed him if he simply wanted a pint or two to drown his sorrows, as many of us may want at the end of a bad week ourselves. Yet he wasn't short or snippy. He was quite gregarious, and generous in giving my friend Ron and I the ten minutes of his time that he did.
Curlers are ambassadors for the sport. I'm not saying that there aren't athletes in other sports who think likewise and approach their game that way. Yet it certainly is a feeling which could be more widespread, and it certainly doesn't seem as ingrained in others as it is with curling and curlers. But the bottom line is this: in promoting the sport we are promoting the attitude which goes along with it. We are promoting the attitude of sportsmanship and fair play and proper consideration of others.
Curlers are a brotherhood, sisterhood, sorority and fraternity all in one. If we can promote that among ourselves it might eventually spread to everyone we come in contact with in our daily lives. It's hyperbole in this case, perhaps, but what's so bad about that?