It's a simple question without a solid answer: Should there be a Team Canada at the Tim Hortons Brier?
I wrote a column on the topic in this morning's Globe and even I don't have a real solid take on what I'd do if the choice was mine. On one side, I love the tradition of the Brier and part of that great tradition is that every team that wins has to earn its way back to the national championships. Now the days of the Brier winner starting out in his or her club are, for the most part, gone. These days provincial champions often get byes to their respective finals, such as Ontario does.
Another part of that tradition is that every province and territory gets into the championship. Well, they used to until we started creating more territories. Now I'm not sure that both the Yukon and Northwest Territories deserve separate entries, but I'm sure if I curled up there I'd feel differently.
And finally, there's always been a Northern Ontario and an Ontario and I see no reason to change that. It's one of the quirky things about the Brier that makes it great.
As for the relegation system that Warren Hansen outlined to me in the column, I think it can be a little scary in that I think the same three or four teams will continue to sit out. Sure, the odd time a Have province might miss, but I'm not so sure. I like the fact that all provinces play and I like the fact that there are opportunities for a Jack MacDuff story.
To me what this is all coming down to is a big separation between the teams that are essentially professional and those that are part-timers. For about that past seven or eight Briers, maybe more, the number of teams that have a legitimate chance of winning is small and predictable. You can look over this field and see that there are five maybe six teams that have a legitimate shot at winning. The others will be out by Tuesday. So isn't it better to try and expand that group to include another possible winning team at the expense of a bottom-feeder?
If you're trying to sell tickets, you'd answer yes in a heartbeat. And folks, there aren't enough tickets being sold to these events these days.
In the end, it all comes down to the realities of the bottom line.