The Olympics, like any big sporting event, brings out great moments of sportsmanship and endless second-guessing. The Russians are still pretty steamed about that disallowed goal in the epic USA-Russia hockey game, and we’ve all seen the face figure skater Ashley Wagner made at her marks from the judges. But there’s one sport here where the toughest critics are the athletes themselves.
It’s a game that unfolds in its own way at its own pace. The spirit of curling places great weight on honor and fair play.
No cursing, never interrupt an opponent, always acknowledge them at the end and most important, call your own fouls.
“You try to be as respectful as you can when the other team throws. You try to be a gentleman, it’s a gentleman’s game,” U.S. curler John Shuster said.
There’s a mainstream sport that shares this culture of honor; golf, which like curling, has self-imposed penalties as well.
At last year’s BMW Championship, Nick Watney’s ball moved ever so slightly in some nasty rough. No one saw but him. He pointed it out and the title slipped away but his integrity remained intact.
“How many times have you seen it? A baseball player, a 2nd baseman takes the throw, makes the swipe at the guy trying to slide in and he’s arguing to the umpire and then the replay clearly shows he never touched him. That doesn’t happen in golf. And you know apparently curling has a lot of the same ethic,” NBC’s Jimmy Roberts said.
In fact, as the US team faced elimination against Canada over the weekend it had to call a damaging penalty against itself when a player touched one of the stones.
“It’s one of those times where you called your own foul. You wouldn’t necessarily have to tell someone you touched it but that’s what we do,” Shuster said.
You can catch the men’s and women’s curling semifinals Wednesday from Sochi.