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The popularity of curling; how the Winter Olympics bring attention to the niche sport

curling popularity
Posted at 6:31 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 18:31:20-05

WAYLAND, Mass. — The Olympics puts eyes from all over the world onto sports many have never played and curling is one of them. It’s mostly a niche sport but when the winter Olympics come around every four years, more people give it a try.

Curling is older than the United States. Shelley Dropkin, the vice president of Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, Massachusetts, says it actually started on the ponds of Scottland as early as the 1500s.

Despite the sport's longevity, many people are still unfamiliar with it.

However, every four years, interest explodes, just in time for the Winter Olympics. The closer the Olympics get, the rarity of places like Broomstones becomes clear.

“For the last quadrennial, we had a 1,000 person open house," Dropkin said. “We’ve had a waiting list of close to 200 300 people because there’s such significant interest.”

She’s on the receiving end of people hungry to give it a try.

“What I’ve heard from people is they start watching it and they become almost magnetized. I literally can’t tell you how many people say, 'I start watching and I can’t stop,'" Dropkin said. “It’s like chess on ice with a bit of bocce and shuffleboard combined, so people are just really drawn to it.”

“We always call curling a gentleman’s sport. You know, it’s a game of honor. You call your own fouls, you call your own errors," Hoge said.

Every four years, Hoge tends to get more people asking him where they can try the sport.

“I think people see it on the Olympics and on TV and they are like, 'I can do that, how hard could that be?'" Hoge said. “Everyone can come out and try it and definitely get good and throw a rock but it takes years and a lifetime to master.”

Ethan Herbert has been on both ends of the stick.

“It’s a unique sport so, I’m the only one at my school that does it," Herbert said.

Herbert loves that the sport is getting more attention.

“In January of 2020 I went to Switzerland for the Youth Olympics," Herbert said. “Having curled at the competitive level you understand the sport a lot more and it’s a lot more fun to watch because you understand what’s going on.”

This interest isn’t specific to a group of people either.

“That’s really the great thing about curling you can do it from you know, 9 to 90 I think it’s a lifelong sport," Hoge said.

It seems that no matter who you are, once people catch the bug, they can’t stay away from the ice.