Saturday, March 9, 2013

Curling club decline: "We have come through a time of institutional arrogance"

There’s a wonderful story in the Winnpeg Free Press by Randy Turner about the sad decline of the small, rural curling clubs in Manitoba. 

According to the piece, there’s been a drop in the number of curling clubs in the province from 330 to 110, most of them in smaller centres. Turner quotes Resby Coutts with the root of the problem: 

"We have come through a time of institutional arrogance," he said. "We assumed everything was good because it was good for the last 20 to 30 years. We never started thinking until recent times that there was a problem. It worries me."

And then there is the lost generation:

Added Curl Manitoba executive director Shane Ray: "Manitoba was such a booming curling community we didn’t worry about (recruitment). We just assumed people would curl, right? And we lost a generation. Now we’re seeing the results in our clubs."

The great Vera Pezer, a curler and now the chancellor of the University of Saskatchewan, also points out the mobility of people as a reason for the drop: 

"For a good sixty years the curling club was the social and competitive centre of small towns and it served a very important purpose because at that time people didn’t go south to Arizona (or other winter destinations), they hung around in their communities," noted Vera Pezer, a chancellor and former sports psychology professor at the University of Saskatchewan. "They had bonspiels and there were really strong rivalries between neighboring communities. It became a means for people to socialize. It was very important."

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