An Open Letter to Curling

Written on December 11th, 2014

Dear Curling,

You’re as cold as ice. Mostly because you’re a winter sport that, true to its category, is played in relatively freezing conditions. On ice. But also because you require the cool and collected head of someone who can calculate risks and outcomes in mere seconds when the game depends on it. In the midst of take-out preparation, you demand the cold mind of a person willing to give everything so that their opponent will lose everything. This is why, then, I rarely play the position that is mostly required to make take-outs. It’s too cold. My mind would melt the strategy of the game.

You don’t mind, though. You provide plenty of other positions to hold. You’re a benevolent passion, Curling. There is a spot for everyone and everyone starts on the level surface of that ice, whether skilled enough to leap across it or clumsy enough to penguin slide in the middle of the Badger State Games (guilty as charged of the latter offense). You make no judgments of height or shoe size, you have no qualms when it comes to muscle density or resting heart rates. Come as we are, you open your vast world of ice dynamics and absurd stretches to everyone daring enough to venture closer. Whether a six year old or a sixty year old, you accommodate us all.

Except for the whole weight thing. You’re pretty darn particular about weight. In a society where it’s already impossible to feel good about myself, you emphasize my flaws by telling me that my weight is always wrong in some regard. The slightest difference in the strength with which I push out of that hack to deliver my stone can make or break the entire end. Being a millisecond too slow is a crime, a short horror story where a take-out turns into an accidental guard. But a millisecond too fast? Now I’ve knocked my own stones out of play, securing a win for the other team and a walk of shame back to the locker room for myself. We can’t all throw perfectly weighted stones, you know, Curling. Not all of us are veterans familiar with your mysterious ways.

Though despite your pickiness with matters on which I believe you place too much value, I can’t deny that I feel at home with you. Probably because I spend a lot of time standing in your house. In all seriousness, though, I’ve come to find a sense of belonging in your friendly atmosphere and engaging strategy. I can sing at the top of my lungs without being too out of breath to perform properly. I can immediately go out in public after practice or a game because you don’t cause me to sweat my way into a hideous misconfiguration of myself. Scarves are not a fashionable nuisance, but rather aid strong gameplay and proper circulation. Moreover, you force community upon area high school students because there is only one curling center for all districts to share. Sneaky, Curling. You are the epitome of “love thy neighbor”. Even when that neighbor has just hurtled a heavy stone at your feet from two sheets away.

And then there’s the lameness. Oh, Curling, don’t let my shivering make you think that you’re cool. You embrace all things dorky without shame. Only you could make me attach a fishing pole to my back to check my alignment, and I’m quite convinced that you’re the only sport where my teammates would be completely nonchalant about that. It’s as if out on that ice we become immune to the high standards of society. We don’t have to be cool, we don’t have to be put together; if we fall over, we fall over. If we lose our glasses in the midst of an intense bought of sweeping, no one minds. We are all about the strategy and beauty of a well-executed shot, and all about laughter when something goes wrong. Our pathetic flags fly proudly, our mistakes do not haunt us indefinitely; in you, we are wonderfully human, and that is wonderfully okay. In you, we are free from the pressure to be perfect and never out of breath. In you, I am one-hundred-percent allowed to be a human being with flaws and inconsistent balance and an affinity for singing off key. I’ve never quite found that anywhere else.

In all honesty, Curling, you have a spirit about you that no one can understand until they feel it firsthand. Not only do you provide a plethora of fine pun opportunities, you also maintain a certain seriousness that reaches out to everyone who sets foot in one of your establishments. It’s sacred ground. It’s safe. And you’re pretty abnormal in many ways, but maybe that’s the strangest thing about you: you’re full of beer and competition and perpetual lameness, but you don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. Not everyone could understand, but I do. You’ve taught me compassion and acceptance that extends beyond the doors of your center and into the world as a whole.

And I love you for it.

Affectionately,
Haley Young
The Girl Who Parties Like a Rockstar