So the United States hockey team beat Canada at the Olympics. Big whoop. The American curlers are on their way home with nothing but bad memories of repeated failure, and that alone makes the entire Winter Olympics a wasted effort from the United States.
Oh, sure, the U.S. leads the world in the medal count with 26, including seven golds, but those were all earned in … well … sports. Skiing, snowboarding and speedskating are all incredibly difficult athletic activities, and they're ones in which you can expect the U.S. to always be competitive.
But curling? Is there any international "sport" that could be easier?
Obviously, sliding a 40-pound rock down a 150-foot sheet of ice and getting it to stop near a bull's-eye isn't that easy, but compare that to, say, triple backflips, or taking turns at 50 miles per hour on a sheet of ice, or shuffling on a set of cross-country skis for a couple of hours, and "easy" doesn't seem so harsh to describe curling.
So if it's so easy, why is America — land of the free, home of the country that's got the most medals — so bad?
If you're wondering how bad the Americans were exactly, here are their records:
Yuck. Both finished 10th out of 10 countries, and both somehow looked even worse than that. Did they forget which flag was sewn onto their collared shirts? This is America, and we're supposed to be the best. We're supposed to be the baddest. Yet if we can't organize our stones in the proper order on a slab of ice, and if we can't show who's the boss by firing a rock at 60 mph, then there's just not a lot of hope for us as a nation.
The performance raises the question of whether this could ever happen in any other Olympic sport. Not often do athletes get nine chances to prove they are so unworthy. Imagine a boxer getting knocked out. Then again. And again. And again. Picture a sprinter crossing the finish line in fifth place, grabbing a microphone and begging the crowd, "OK, best two-out-of-three?"
It's ludicrous, and the fact the our curlers failed time and time again makes it that much worse.
Even more troubling for curling as a sport was the Americans' failure to capitalize on what surely could have been millions and millions in future television revenue. When curling came on TVs at 12 p.m. on the East Coast every day, it was a welcome sight on many sets. With the eyes of the nation tuned in, the curlers had a chance to cash in and become stars. Instead, we only know that John Shuster is the reincarnation of Bill Buckner. Times 10. This is a man who completely missed the target ("house" if you're into proper terms) so many times that he was benched — benched — for the men's win over France. Benched. In curling! Do they even have a bench?
That's not the only negative we discovered this week. We now know that the women lost to a Danish team that complained about the crowd noise. The men lost to a Norwegian team that decided to ravage the closet of John Daly. We know the women lost to a Canadian team that included a woman who was very, very pregnant. We know that America was utterly, completely and overwhelmingly owned.
We don't know if the country can ever recover.
So here we are as a nation, left to watch sports like hockey, figure skating and the like for our remaining medal hopes, with the images of the red, white and blue tossing rocks into a big circle fading fast. Four long years await for this curling nation.
But it's not all bad news, I suppose. We did beat France, so that's always good. Plus, we'll always have this video to remind us that curling, however easy it may seem, could actually be a little difficult to play. Not nearly as difficult, though, as it was to watch.
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