Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A lot has happened in twenty years

I've posted my 'Looking Back' feature, see here, twenty years back to December 1990. How much has happened since then! It was uncommon for Scottish teams to travel to Europe to take part in weekend competitions, and the free guard zone had yet to become an accepted part of the game.

The contrast to now is illustrated perhaps by the content of my December Editorial (read it here). If you are even a little interested in how our GB teams are going to fare at the next Olympics and Paralympics then you should read this. I've tried to make sense of the major changes that are currently taking place at the top end of the sport in Scotland. Twenty years ago the Olympics were barely on the horizon. There had been a demonstration curling event in Calgary in 1988. Contrast that to the interest now! In my editorial I'm being provocative as usual, but I am really worried about the effect of the thinking at the top on the grass roots of the sport.

There was a lovely thread on the CurlingZone Forum recently about 'First time on ice'. One poster wrote, "I remember when I brought my daughter out for her first time with the little rocks at five years of age. She learned to slide and throw a bit the first few weeks. I think it was in the fourth week where she got one of the little rocks in the rings for the first time. I was so excited I called my wife at home. When my daughter came in for her break, I asked her how she felt getting her first rock in the rings. She said she did not know it made it in as she could not see that far.

Fifteen years later, her final rock in the national juniors was a hit to win the Canadian championship."

Another responded, "I too have been lucky enough to see my daughter’s first throw and to play in a world junior championship. My eyes welled with pride as my swan slid from the hack at the junior worlds in Italy with USA on her back. Throughout it all, the years between, I made sure that it was fun. Every town visited for every bonspiel played, we did something fun and educational in addition to curl. Over the years their confidence and abilities grew, but the reason they stuck with curling I think was that fun and camaraderie they shared together.

We want our children in sport to learn all those life’s lessons that sport can teach so well. But sometimes we lose sight of the fact that at that age, it really should be about having fun."

'Fun and camaraderie', that's the best thing about our sport, at any age. Let's never lose sight of that.