Readers of this blog will know that I am no fan of the Continental Cup. I’ve criticized it almost from Day 1 and in my humble opinion, it’s not getting any better. In fact, it’s really become a joke.
I think the WCF missed the boat on what could be a tremendous event. Right now, it seems to be nothing more than a big mixed bonspiel for really good curlers. Lots of giggles and good-natured cheering, both sides paling around, ad nauseam. Is there any more chip and dip? What time does the dance start again? Karaoke anyone?
Now that type of atmosphere is in part what makes curling great. It just doesn’t make this event great. I’m all for having a fun event involving top curlers but don’t try to pass it off as a Ryder Cup, us-vs-them style event to which the Continental Cup is always compared. It’s not.
You don’t hear players talking about bragging rights, or of wanting to get back at the other side next time. You don’t hear teams getting excited about making the World team or the North American side. That's what happens in the Ryder Cup. Each side wants to win so badly, they'd sell their grandmother for a chance. There's excitement, pressure, pride and more on the line.
The Continental Cup? The fact that the World’s captain Peja Lindholm had to invoke a no-drinking rule shows you how seriously the curlers have taken this event in the past. The fact that TSN was interviewing curlers (Niklas Edin, Glenn Howard) in the middle of the competition on Friday tells you that this is about as competitive as the Sunday morning Legion league, just without the knee sliders.
And then there’s the format: a points system that is far too complicated for the average TV viewer to follow (Team competition is worth 72 points but Skins is worth 260? Wha?), that allows one side to win before the final day’s play begins and competitions that boggle the mind. Mixed Skins? Barf. About the only enjoyable thing of yesterday’s play was watching Wayne Middaugh huff and puff up and down the ice, chasing after his rocks, looking like he was about to lose his lunch along the way.
At the risk of repeating myself as I do every year, the way you make this better is simple. Don’t hold it every year because it loses significance. Make the points system easier to understand with games worth single points. Add a double-team event and get read of some of the silly competitions such as mixed skins and even doubles.
Right now this event is fun and different. But it’s just not important to anyone. Time for a change.