In other sports news, the Cleveland Browns of American football ignominy won their first playoff game in over 25 years. Here in Ohio, that is a big deal. 

I am a recovering football fan, but I am happy for many of my friends and colleagues who have been waiting for such an occasion. Allegiance to a particular sports team is usually based on proximity, but the players and coaches change scenes so often that NFL (and most pro sports) fandom is basically, to paraphrase Jerry Seinfeld, rooting for laundry.

Having said that, there’s a lifehack here: I could simply step in today, being unable to name more than a couple Cleveland Browns players in the last 10 years, and root for them. There was absolutely no reason to suffer through years of bad sports. Bandwagoning is healthy, and good, and everyone should do it. Players change teams all the time, so can you.

When it comes to curling teams we rarely see specific dedication. (I say this having stanned Jennifer Jones since The Shot in 2005, and hope that when she’s in her 70s she’s still ruining the hearts of 25-year-old skips with downweight taps, but I do not need to see her team win all the time.) 

We see curling fan tribalism primarily in three situations: Canadian championships, world championships/Olympics, and when “you happen to know them.” While they rarely change nationality, we’ve started to see teams breach the sacred bonds of provincial borders. And who even knows where Adam Casey lives right now? It doesn’t matter, as long as he’s playing and having fun.

Team Shuster • James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Team Shuster • James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Case in point: It was remarkably satisfying watching John Shuster’s team win gold, especially after the Olympic thuds in 2010 and 2014, and seeing the team’s progression into a serious medal contender as they entered Korea. But the dilettante Olympic curling fan simply could have tuned in and enjoyed it all the same. Athletes can put in sweat equity but fans get nothing out of it. I didn’t help.

At your local bonspiels, you may have a rooting interest if it’s your club against another’s, but in the end you’re just there to watch a good game, and there’s no reason to get bent out of shape.

So the next time a curling game is televised–whenever that may be, Covid be damned–think about who you’re rooting for and why. When you turn to baseball or football or any other professional team sport, do the same thing. You might have fun just enjoying the sport for the sake of sport.

Unless you know them. Don’t tell ‘em you’re secretly rooting for the other team.