Over the winter my wife and I took up curling. Curling is that Winter Olympic sport that is televised on the 8 broadcast channel, and if you’re like me you’ll spend the whole Olympic season relearning the rules and strategy that come with that game that looks something like bowling and shuffleboard.
Anyhow, I’m loving it. It good exercise; it’s fun; it makes me think; and when someone makes an excellent shot, it’s exhilarating. But more than that, the game is proving to be a great way to make social connection. As the club members told us in the Learn to Curl class, there’s one universal rule in curling. That is that after a good game of curling, everyone is expected to participate in broom stacking. This is true from rookie club level to the Olympics. Everyone stacks their brooms up outside the “warm room” and the winners, buy the first drink, losers buy the second, and by the 3rd, no one cares who won or lost.
It’s this practice that makes curling what it is. It’s the most forgiving sport I’ve ever seen. No. The ice isn’t forgiving. It causes all kinds of problems for the learner and for the veteran. But the people practice great sportsmanship. The curlers call their own fouls. The curlers judge their own scoring. And when someone trips over a rock, their is an interesting practice that nearly always works out for the best.
First, the one causing an infraction quickly points it out. At that point, the rule is that the rock should be moved back to where is was when tripped on or where it was going when touched. Of course, no one can possibly judge these things with precision. So in theory, the two sides work out the position, but in practice, the infringing side allow the other side to decide. And in theory, the deciding side could say whatever they want, but because you’re going to have to buy a beer and drink it with the other party in a few minutes, I’ve noticed (from club level up to the World championships) the spot is usually chosen fairly, but when necessary, conservatively in favor of the infringing team so that no one is left feeling that they have been taken advantage of.
What if marriage and churches and all society realized the practice of broom stacking. We’re going to have to drink together? Let’s learn to live together in a way where we aren’t striving to take advantage over the other people. Call out your infracting (confession). Allow those that you hurt to tell you how hurt they are (repentance). Then exercise their right to not claim all of your rights and advantages when you have been fouled (grace).
Curling is a fun sport. Players take it seriously. But winning is always secondary to doing what is right to maintain sportsmanship.
By the way, my club has a learn to curl in a few weeks. Check it out. When you come, I’ll buy the first drink.