Curling Makes Winter Suck Less, but it’s Also Harder than You Think



With curling there are two cliches that always accompany the two week period in which we see actual mainstream interest in the sport every four years. The first is “oh, it’s not really a sport.” The second is “oh, I can do that, anybody can, we could all be winter olympic athletes.”

First off, it’s worth noting that the curling I participated in is not really curling at all. I went to Kaiser Tiger, an establishment located at the west end of the SoDaSoPa (for our South Park viewing readers) that is Randolph Street in the west loop. There may or may not be other Chicago bars that offer curling, I just know that KT is the current leader in this niche.

As such they are allowed to get away with the most inconvenient, logistically nightmarish protocol possible when it comes to registration. You can only sign up, day off and in person, when it opens at 4pm, and it’s cash only. No booking online or by phone or by any other means ahead of time.

I responded to “where else are you going to?” style arrogance by paying with a $100 bill (maybe I’ve watched too many Cardi B music videos?). The gentleman manning the registration countered by asking me, and he actually seemed serious “do you need change?”

Inside I thought to myself, in the heaviest tone of sarcasm possible: “no, I want to tip 150%; to somebody who did nothing for me except hand me a legal waiver to sign when I came all the way out to him.”

Out loud I just said “yes” in the tersest, most deadpan and unemotional tone possible. Hey, curling is not cheap- it’s $40 per half hour, and I’m certainly not going to “tip” anyone for it. I also avoided paying over-inflated west loop drink prices as I loaded up on Canadian whiskey (honoring the game’s country of origin) before heading out.

This also made the L ride over to KT and the walk in the cold much more tolerable.

However, what I didn’t give KT in profit margin on drink purchases I’m making up for right now by giving them a native advertisement for free- both with this post and on social media. Make no mistake about it, this is no influencer post on Instagram, nor is it a sponsored post for The Sports Bank.

Kaiser Tiger comped me nothing for this, and given the demand for curling right now, they certainly wouldn’t have to. Winter sucks, it’s been here too long already, and it shows no signs of leaving any time soon.

The best thing you can do to combat the winter of our discontent (i.e. every winter) is to get out and do stuff regardless of the weather.

Curling is the ice form of bocce ball/Italian lawn bowling/what bowls is in England/quasi-cold bowling. In other words, it’s a beer game, best played in a beer garden.


And the objective is to get the stone into the area of the ice painted exactly like a British warplane and referred to as “the house.” (as it’s a Canadian game, you can pronounce in “the hoose.”)

Also, feel free to get in touch with your early 1990s hip-hop slang and make as many “in the house” rap references as possible.

However, like I said before, this is not actually curling, because all you are doing is throwing the stones, hoping to get them into the house.

You are not going onto the ice and sweeping around the stones, and that is a good thing. If you go on the ice at KT, you will be immediately thrown out of the place and that’s how exactly how it should be.

You don’t want to mix drinking alcohol with walking on ice; period. And make no mistake about t, the vibe that surrounds curling, at least here, is more than a bit brotastic.


It is not as easy as it looks though- the stones are heavier and more difficult to control than one might expect.

Also, you do have to get some exercise at least because you are constantly standing up, kneeling down, repositioning yourself, and extending outward. Have you ever done a bunch of lunges for the first time in a very long while? And then wondered why you were in a lot of pain the next day?

So no, you can’t perform at curling as well as the olympians can. You do need a level of skill as this game can be just as frustrating as it is fun.

And if you’re going to say this isn’t a sport, then you have to apply that logic to several other Olympic sports like throwing a spear (javelin), engaging in the 11th century version of what a military air force was (archery), tossing a mini cannon ball (shot put), twirling around and tossing a heavy frisbee (discus) and…well, you get the point.



At the end of the day all that matters is whether the activity is enjoyable or not; who cares if it is/isn’t a sport/game/whatever.

Curling is outdoor fun, and this time of year, such activities are in very short supply.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC and Chicago, regularly appears as a guest pundit on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

He also contributes sociopolitical essays to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

Powered by

Speak Your Mind