There’s a wonderful piece by Paul Wiecek in the Freep today about the seeming legions of Jennifer Jones haters. For some reason, Jones has become Enemy No. 1 with many curling fans who show their displeasure by booing her, posting harsh comments in places such as Curlingzone.com and lashing out notes on newspaper web sites.
For the life of me, I’ve never understood this.
Yes, Jones along with Dawn Askin and Jill Officer (It wasn’t JUST Jones who made this decision) decided to part ways with Cathy Overton-Clapham after a successful season. They had an eye on the future and decided on this move.
In any other sport, this would have been an accepted as part of the business. You make changes in hopes of getting better (hence the rabid appeal on days such as today, Trade Deadline Day). They aren’t always popular but they are done. But in curling, for some reason, everyone is expected to play nice. It doesn’t matter if you lose, win or tie – you just stay with the team.
That doesn’t mean that Cathy O doesn’t have a right to be upset or hold a grudge – it’s easy to see her side of things – or that folks can’t like and dislike whomever they want. It’s just that to put a black hat on Jones and continually stab her, to me, just doesn’t make sense. If the Cathy O dumping is the only reason people dislike Jones, isn’t it time to get over it?
Jones is an immensely private person but I got to know her well during the 2010 Olympics when she sat beside me on the media bench. She was working for Yahoo.ca and spending 13 days and 14 hours a day beside someone gives you some insight into their make up.
Last year, in preparation for the Scotties, I did a lengthy interview with her and shortly after that, she called me and asked if there was one topic we discussed in passing that could be left out of the story.
Because it wasn’t really relevant to anything I was writing about, I agreed. During the course of the week at the Scotties, she thanked me and confided in me several times about a few things, and I came to see how tough it was for her to be on the receiving end of the harsh comments and the boos that rained down at the Charlottetown Civic Centre, especially during the game against Manitoba and in the final.
If this was a professional team and you’d paid good money to come and see it play (i.e. the Leafs or Habs), then boo all you want. But these people are just regular folks who work jobs and curl for fun and a little bit of spending money.
And really. . . booing in curling?
This year, although I wasn’t there, it seems some took delight in watching the Jones team crumble
Jones, to me, is an exceptional individual, someone who has managed to combine a career with curling. Not many people – male or female – have done that at the level she’s at career-wise. She also does a lot to give back to the sport, hosting clinics, signing autographs, talking with young players.
Perhaps this is the price that has to be paid for curling moving into bigger arenas and the athletes becoming bigger celebrities. I just have a hard time understanding people’s rationale for this harsh and mean-spirited action against someone as talented and good-natured as ones.