KEYS TO SUSTAINABLE CURLING – Youth
But why should we send our son/daughter to curl? There are three solid reasons:
- Mixed genders: There is no other team sport, with as many participants, that have the opportunity to interact between the genders. And the results are evidence: Jones-Laing; McEwen; Tippin; Cottrill; and who knows what other budding romances. The result could however be a distraction for mid-teens, whose focus on the sport might be compromised.
- Family Affair: What better way to keep the family together than taking your kids to youth programs. For the Inglis clan and many families, curling becomes an event around which we can travel. The sport has many siblings in the sport: Homan; Muyres; Richardson; Harnden……. There may be arguments and rivalries for parents to referee, but ultimately, the sport contributes to future compatibilities.
- Behind the Glass: The sport of curling encourages mingling before, during and after each game. Two hours on ice expands to three and four hours of honing social graces (not to mention enhancing the local economy). Parents / spectators similarly have the opportunity to grow their social circles, if they can overcome their parental partisanship.
- Communications: A worthy coach is encouraging communication during the game. The din of the rink requires non-verbal language to be learned. Without team dynamics facilitated by good communication, teams can dissolve. The ice and pre/post-game venues are classrooms.
- Olympics: The pressures to medal from the federal program Own the Podium has directed the sport to become an athletic endeavour. This was a cultural shift from the social, anyone-can-try-for-the-Brier attitude predating 1998.
- Cross fit: Training has become an essential part of the schedule for teams with aspirations of Olympics. It has been shown that athletes involved in more than one sport enhance their primary sport. The ideal was Clara Hughes which saw her become both a summer and winter Olympian.
- Agility: Broomgate provided the evidence that sweeping truly is part of the sport. The technology is now regulated, but technique still wins games. And one must be fit to perform front end duties.
- Balance: That perfect slide is owned by those who can hold balance for the 4-5 seconds in the stretch crouch to propel the stone. Then for the sweepers, balance keeps from burning their rocks.
- Active on every projectile: Curling is the only team sport in which all players have impact on every stone. Hockey players may be on the bench, baseball outfielders may wait innings before touching a ball. But curlers throw, sweep or monitor their stones on every throw. In this way, children have little time to lose interest, if properly instructed.
- The alternatives are more costly: basketball; hockey; gymnastics; soccer. In 2007-8, the net cost of my two children involved in (almost weekly) bonspiels, and provincial playdowns for 30 weeks was estimated at $5000. Comparatively, my neighbour’s elite level hockey playing son cost them $15,000 per annum.
- Minimal equipment: Although I recommend to all participants that they should have appropriate shoes and brooms ($300), minimal equipment needs are usually available free of charge at the curling facility. Thus planning by the parents is nominal.
- Low fees: This is both the bane and benefit of curling. A mother whose hockey playing son is invited to a Learn to Curl session is called away from the glass to pay for her son’s tutelage. She thought that the request for $80 was steep, but she filled out the cheque and handed it over. As she and her jubilant son were leaving, the coach waved bye with a jovial, “See you next week”. “Next week?” She asked, thinking she had paid for this one-off lesson. “Yes, the program is eight weeks, said the coach.
- Tournament costs: Ontario Junior Curling Tour, and other provincial associations that followed, charge as much as $480 to play in a weekend tournament. That is $120 per child for at least 4 games, often a meal and guest speaker. And the team recuperates that and more if they qualify for playoffs.
These valid reasons for involving your children in the sport of curling pay off in a social and physically balanced offspring. Ignore the Curling Club board members who pander that the trained youth will simply leave the town or city for employment or school. Most importantly, involving children in curling during the formative years is the future of the sport.
See also: http://yorkurbanist.com/recreation/curling/the-missing-demographic-25-40/ for the followup market.