Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Continental Cup has Jumped the Shark

It started out with good intentions, but let's face it -- the Continental Cup is little more than an exhibition that has about as much intensity as a family barbecue. Players are laughing and joking around, often times in mid-game. This has gone from being an international competition to Friday night mixed.
The problems, as I see it, are plentiful. But here are the main ones:
* Adjust the Calendar. Having this event every year just kills any build-up. If, as the press releases from the CCA and WCF and the banner on the event's web site likes to remind us, this was patterned after golf's Ryder Cup (the web site actually says "The Ryder Cup of Curling"), then use that format of every other year. Even that might be too much but every year just makes it another curling event, nothing special.
* Fix the points system. Could there be a more convoluted point system? Do you think Bill and Betty from Weyburn have any idea of what's going on? I mean why allow actual points from games count towards the total? You're just asking for trouble and you got it this year with North America clinching heading into the final day. Sunday is now a waste, when it should, at the very least, provide some sort of stage for a remarkable comeback (again, see Ryder Cup of Brookline, Mass.) There should be no possible way a team can clinch before Sunday and the way to do that is to put a value on a game won as opposed to the scores of that game. Win a Skins Game, get 5 points, or something like that. Not only will that provide a proper finish on Sunday, but it might actually allow people watching to understand just how the scoring works.
* Add a third team. Hey, did you notice that China just won the Pacific championships. . . both men's and women's? And Korea and New Zealand and Australia are legit teams? Why not bring in a Pacific squad to vie for the title? Sure it might get a little confusing in the scheduling department, but the benefits are plentiful.
* Adjust the format. OK, you need to get rid of mixed doubles (sorry, but you ain't getting into the Olympics folks) and singles. In their place, add a double-rink competition. That's where two teams play two teams with the total score of both games deciding the outcome. So imagine the Randy Ferbey and Jennifer Jones teams playing against Andy Kapp and Ludmila Privovkova. This is a format that's been played in curling for, oh, about 100 years or so and it's much better than this goofy mixed doubles stuff.

Right now, the Continental Cup is in that same category as the Mixed. An event that happens, but without anyone really caring all that much.

1 comment:

Dean Gemmell said...

You nailed it with this post, Bob. It's time to put a fork in this thing. I still have no idea why CBC subjected viewers to the full eight ends of women's Skins with only a few peeks over at the game featuring the last two men's world champions. Mixing it up sure would have made sense.

I don't mean to diminish the efforts of the players who competed hard and appeared to care about winning this strange event. The problems start with a bad format — would have been easy to make sure the thing could not have been over before the last day — but the real problem is that the curling bodies fail to recognize that television sports is most compelling when the difference between winning and losing is huge. It's not just great shotmaking that matters but execution when the stakes are high. That's why the high stakes of the Skins work, it's why the Brier final is always compelling and it's why the finals of the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials is so terrific. Lose and you get a candy dish. I would have rather seen a "C" Qualifier from the Canada Cup Qualifiers than the maroon in Medicine Hat. At least then I'd see curlers who were playing for their lives.

Finally, imagine a sports fan with a casual interest in curling tuning in, thoroughly confused by the whole damn event. Fact is, if I was a Brand Manager and curling was my brand, I'd be worried that I was going to be fired.

Even worse, I can't see how this event could bring in any profit for the CCA or the WCF. It's a shame because I'm sure there were a lot of good volunteers involved in Medicine Hat and they put on a first-class event. Unfortunately, the event — and the broadcast — was DOA.

Dean Gemmell