Archery is the ‘new’ curling? I don’t think so, NBC

August 3, 2012

Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research and development, said on the network’s Olympics conference call Thursday that archery is the new curling.

As a former “vice skip”* on my high school’s curling team, I have a message for Mr. Wurtzel: archery is no curling, sir.

Of course I am being a bit tongue-in-cheek here and I’m not that offended. Plus, Wurtzel has some compelling numbers to back up his claim.

He said curling was the most-viewed Olympics sport on cable this year, even ranking ahead of basketball and its TV-ready athletes like LeBron James

“Archery is the new curling. The numbers for archery have been nothing less than huge,” said Wurtzel. “It delivered an average of 1.5 million cable viewers, the highest rated cable sport, beating out basketball. Now maybe it’s the Hunger Games phenomenon, or Brady Ellison orKhatuna Lorig who taught Jennifer Lawrence how to shoot for the film,  it really doesn’t matter but we’re going to keep an eye on that.”

I have to admit that even I got caught up in the archery hype. I reveled in the nail-biting suspense of the U.S. archery team’s silver medal performance Saturday and watched as members tried to nail bullseyes under pressure.

But as a former curler from Canada, I couldn’t help but feel a little treasonous listening to NBC on Thursday. Curling is not as popular as hockey by any means but it’s still one of the frozen national pastimes back home. And it’s spilled over the border too–curling’s popularity has been steadily growing in the U.S. since the last Winter Olympics, according to this AP story.

I highly doubt a curler in the winter would hang up their broom and slider for a bow and arrow. Or, based on the numbers Wurtzel cites, maybe they would. But I can tell you—and NBC this– those high tech bows used in the Olympics look mighty different than what Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss uses in The Hunger Games.


*A vice skip is like a vice captain, and throws third ahead of the skip. The skip is the captain of the four-person team and goes last*




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As a sagittarial proselytizer, I will also admit to having watched (and enjoyed) curling. Once. Ok, maybe twice. The fact that curling is a winter games sport, and archery is a year-round outdoor event seen also at the summer games tells me that I can enjoy both!
And of course, NBC is right, archery is so very new, having only been documented by historical evidence (arrow head points) to have been around oh, 50,000 years or so….
Name another Olympic sport where the US has had 18 yo and 52 yo women on the same team? Or where several para archers have also shot well enough to compete in the Olympics as well as the Paralympics? Archery is cool for many reasons, while curling is fun but cold, ice cold

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