There are winners and losers in every Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics and I’m not referring to the athletes. Television networks and the events themselves can take a hit or get a bump during and after 17 consecutive days of action and coverage. Men’s figure skating, ice hockey and superstar Shaun White have done very well for NBC and the Winter Olympics, as expected. There is one clear winner as the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics head toward the closing ceremony.
My friends and I ventured out to a local establishment here in north New Jersey on a Saturday night. Several television sets had curling on throughout the evening. Why is this a big deal, you ask? The United States wasn’t even involved in the match. Canada was taking on Great Britain and people weren’t just glancing up at the television screens from time to time. They were discussing the action and proclaiming their new love for USA curling and curling as a whole.
Don’t believe that curling is a big deal? Log onto Twitter the next time an Olympic curling event is taking place and just enter “curling” in the search box. The Twitter universe has been abuzz with curling talk since the opening round. The New York Post has reported that curling has been the most watched Winter Olympic event on cable. So why do people suddenly care about curling?
Reason #1 curling wins gold: Close matches
The USA men and women has been involved in extremely tight curling matches throughout the round robin portion of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The men lost three consecutive curling matches on the final shot of the match. In any sporting event, fans are drawn in when there is suspense and a nail-biting conclusion. Curling has featured more of these moments than any other event during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Reason #2 curling wins gold: Letdown
Let’s face it: American sports fans love both a hero and a goat. Enter poor John Shuster, the man many new American curling fans blame for the lack of a medal. Shuster missed three shots at the end of three straight matches, resulting in three straight losses for USA curling. After the third loss, Shuster’s Wikipedia page was hacked (name changed to “Chokey McChokerston”) and a “John Shuster Sucks” Facebook group was created.
For those interested, there is also a “Support John Shuster” Facebook page.
Reason #3 curling wins gold: High definition
HDTV has done wonders for the NHL as hockey could be the best sport to watch in high definition. The same goes for curling. HDTV allows viewers to see imperfections on the ice as the stone curls toward the house (the circular area) and the bright colors of the circles and stones attract viewers cycling through stations on their TVs.
Reason #4 curling wins gold: Lack of competition
Fans of the Winter Olympics living in the United States have had two choices during weekday afternoons: Watch curling or watch nothing until 3 pm and again between 5-8 pm. USA curling matches that began at 5 pm often went against hockey games that did not involve any American squad. By habit, American viewers will watch an event with a USA squad playing in it.
So will we see a weekly curling program on American television once the 2010 Winter Olympics come to an end? Hey, there are crazier events broadcast on ESPN and ESPN2. Make no mistake about one thing. Curling is growing in popularity in the United States with every televised match, quite the achievement when you consider the fact that the Americans will leave Vancouver without a single curling medal.
For more: Read my 2010 Winter Olympics Curling Q&A here andFollow NYGExaminer on Twitter