Over at In The House Curling, one of my favourite blogs, Mike Fournier, allowed 2006 Brier champion Jean-Michel Menard to post a guest blog and it's quite an eye-opener.
Menard doesn't tackle the easy topic of relegation, but pulls back the curtain on the constant cuts to the Brier, from a player's standpoint.
You can (and should) read the entire article here
Essentially the article says that as far as players go, there has been a slow erosion of services. Some of the things Menard discusses are the lack of dedicated drivers, the disappearance of the players' lounge, fewer hotel rooms and even food in between games.
The one that sticks out for me is the end of a team driver. There's a great history of teams having their own driver. For volunteers, it was one of the great jobs to get. In one of the most famous partnerships, Sam Richardson served as the team driver for Jack MacDuff's Newfoundland team that won the 1976 Brier. Richardson started the week as the driver and ended up as the team coach!
From the CCA side, I suspect this is something that had to be done to preserve the bottom line. The Brier is no longer the cash-cow it once was. Cutting costs is just something that's unfortunately inevitable. When crowds aren't showing up, the money has to come from somewhere. It may seem cheap and it may come at the expense of the stars of the show, but I'm not sure what else you can do?
However, a few of these cuts make the CCA look bad. Food in the players dressing rooms between games seems like something that could be arranged pretty easily. If you have back-to-back draws, the time between games can be tight, especially if you happen to be a player or team that is in demand by the media. You finish your game and spend possibly 30 to 40 minutes with the press and then have to hustle to get something to eat. And if the officials are getting something in their room, I can't see why the players shouldn't get something too.