I’ve always told myself as the #bubblespiel has progressed: whatever amount of games we get, we’re lucky to have it. I’ve also constantly told my son since he knew how to listen, “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” We nearly hit that moment in the bubble at a rather precocious moment: the playoffs of the world men’s curling championship. It kept the athletes off the ice for a tense Saturday, and set up a cumbersome Sunday.
It should also be noted that outside the bubble, Alberta (and most of Canada) was experiencing a third wave of COVID-19, with tens of thousands of tests processed over the weekend. Most of you reading this probably know all too well the unrelenting patience required to wait for a Covid test result. Our family has gone through it a few times. It stops your plans dead in the tracks. Work plans change. Your kids aren’t going to class, if they were to begin with. Any semblance of a life you thought you had … nice try.
For the athletes who spent days getting ready to travel, and more days to acclimate into the bubble, and then spend a week trying to play the best curling of your life, only to wait some more? It’s a sobering reminder of the artificial and delicate nature of the #bubblespiel. It’s not quite real life, and at a moment’s notice it can become far too real. And you’re stuck with more questions than answers.
The test results came back, and the games were played (with masks, without knuckle taps), and before the World Curling Federation confirmed it Monday night, we already had a few more answers. Indeed, the four positives were all presumed to be false positives … and that’s exactly what they were.
I’m sure that around the province, and country, and world, false positives are coming in as well. (If you’re curious about the accuracy of testing, curler/microbiologist Paul Luethy, who literally wrote the case study on bonspiels as superspreader events gave us a good primer over the weekend via Twitter.
Part of the undying allure of sports is the ability to get completely lost in its trivial intricacies; the athletes, the rules, the nuances. For curling, it’s following the ice conditions, seeing the angles, trying to figure out what shots are available, timing the hog-to-hog splits at home, getting tired at watching these fit athletes sweep coast to coast, and doing the napkin math to see how many more games a particular team needs to win to advance to the playoffs. And it’s all made possible by those fragile external factors, in this case it’s viral tests in the thick of a year-long pandemic. So it’s good to understand that stuff too.
It’s like the Free Guard Zone. You have a little bit of time to place a few chunks of granite in specific spaces, but at some point life starts intervening by peeling those off, and reality must be dealt with for a little bit. It’s all one story, unfortunately, and it’s a nasty pandemic that we just all want to be done with, and be done talking about, so that we can all get back to curling freely again, at the club, or at national championships with real fans and life-fulfilling hugs.
But for now, the #bubblespiel show will go on with a few more events. Then we’re going to have one in the United States. Then who knows. Keep the fingers crossed.