Thursday, April 05, 2007

People are surprised by this?

I'd almost think my predictive skills were improving or something, except I failed to win $38 million on 6/49, so my time in Nunavut continues. (It's not that we don't like it here, but let's face it, if we won $38 million, we would be moving some place warmer).

For example, I was wondering the other day when channel surfing why the hell the History Channel was showing CSI: New York. As best I can figure, it's a procedural drama and has nothing really to do with history.

Then I find out that I'm not the only one wondering. The CRTC has sent a letter to the channel's parent company telling them to pull the show. The reason why CSI: NY is considered historical, according to the company? That it has a character dealing with the aftereffects of 9/11, an important historical event in New York.

I think I speak on behalf of most Canadians when I go, 'That's seriously fucking weak, guys."

But the real psychic moment I'm proud of came from watching the Brier. Yes, it's curling again. Fucking deal. I was watching the way the team was playing and noted that Jamie Korab wasn't shooting the best. It was around the low 80, high 70s in terms of percentage, if I recall. And for a lead, that's not great. An average lead has to be hitting the high 80s at that level of competition.

Lead is one of those positions where if you're doing well, no one notices or cares. If you're not, then people notice in a big hurry. And Gushue notices these things. He's turfed players before and with those numbers I wondered what was going on and if there was going to be a problem down the road.

And lo, here we are, at the end of the road. The Telegram reports that Korab is gone for "team chemistry" reasons. The Telegram has also begun to allow people to post reactions to their stories. And in typical Newfoundland fashion, since Gushue is now doing well, it's time to tear the boy down and put him back in his place.

Ego is mentioned an awful lot in the posts. People saying that fundamentally misunderstands the situation and Brad Gushue.

I don't pretend to have inside information on what happens inside the St. John's curling club, nor am I familiar on a personal level with anyone on the team or the current circumstances. But from interviews and scuttlebutt you hear, this is what I do know. Gushue is quite possibly the most driven athlete in the province. I would dare you to find me another person in any sport played in Newfoundland that has his desire to succeed.

Least we forget, back in 2001 he said his goals were to win the Olympics, win the Brier and win the World Championship. People laughed. Hell, I laughed. Newfoundlanders don't succeed at that level. It was a foolish dream.

And yet, he won the Olympics. He was on the wrong side of one bad shot call from quite possible winning the Brier. And given the level of play I've seen at the World's this week, he'd probably be on the verge of winning that as well if he was there.

I'm not sure if many of us can understand that level of drive or commitment to a sport. But it has consequences. Yes, you can become quite successful. However, it alienates people. They will become envious and will never understand you. And the ones that cheer the loudest when you succeed will also be the ones quickest to whip out the knives when they feel you're getting a bit too big for yourself.

Gushue isn't liked in Newfoundland curling circles. Despite all the nice things said last year, he hasn't been for years. That level of success and willingness to win despite high costs doesn't get you many friends. It earns you respect for your skills, but it also earns you a heck of a lot of people who don't like you very much on a personal level.

Anybody who curls with Gushue has to know the price. This is, and pardon the crude analogy, like the Beatles. Gushue and Nichols are Lennon and McCartney. As long as they're getting along and the team is competitive, they'll go through as many Ringo's and George Harrison's as they want. Sorry to be mean, but leads and seconds are disposable. And it's been made very clear by Gushue and Nichols that if the lead and second aren't doing the job, well, they'll find someone who can.

It's also worth noting that Nichols had to agree with that decision. If he said, "No, Jamie stays" that I doubt Gushue pushes the issue (for all we know, it was Nichols who suggested it). However, since Gushue is the public face of the team, he takes the good (most of the fame) with the bad (all the shitting on for being a raving egomaniac).

Yes, it's mean. Yes, that's perhaps not a very friendly thing to do to someone who helped you win an Olympic medal. And it's definitely not all that loyal. But that's sports. Meaner things happen than what Gushue did in hockey, basketball, soccer, etc every single day. He's hardly getting too big for his britches. Both he and Nichols want the same thing – they want to win ("Why do we play the game? We play to win."). And they don't just want to win a Brier and a World Championship. They want to win several. They want another gold medal. They want, when it's all said and done, to be viewed as some of the greatest curlers in history.

Sure it's ego, but Gushue has had a large one for many years. You need one to have that drive and to want to call a game and shoot skip stones. I bet you his ego is no larger today than it was before the Olympics. And if you didn't know that, then clearly you weren't paying all that much attention to Gushue in the first place.

One final thought. All the people sniping and bitching at him today will be the same ones cheering when he finally wins the Brier. The general public is a fickle bitch….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I respect Gushue as a person and curler. What struck me in all that is that they were in the Brier final this year. And then Korab gets canned. I mean they lost that game because of Brad's risky call not Korab's play.

They had a good season. And I watched him play all Brier week on TV and from what I could see Schille seemed to miss a lot of critical shots (his percentage may dispute that claim). Anyway, you have to respect Gushue's drive for success but balance it with the fact that he does make some interesting choices inside and outside the game.