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Money well spent, if not overdue

Huge crowds have turned out at Mile One Centre for the Tim Hortons Brier this week and that’s good new for the province’s youth curlers as proceeds from the 50/50 draw will be funneled into the provincial junior program.
Huge crowds have turned out at Mile One Centre for the Tim Hortons Brier this week and that’s good new for the province’s youth curlers as proceeds from the 50/50 draw will be funneled into the provincial junior program.

A couple of thoughts and observations as we slide into playoff weekend at the Tim Hortons Brier: And before we get to the curling itself, let’s consider the 50-50 payouts (it always comes back to money, right?).

All proceeds from the 50-50 draw are going to junior curling in Newfoundland, which should provide a nice shot in the arm to the youth program across the province.

That’s good to see, because it’s evident Newfoundland curling did nothing to capitalize on Brad Gushue’s Olympic success. Eleven years later, there were a paltry five teams in each of the provincial men’s and women’s championships, indications of a junior program that floundered following the gold medal in Torino.

So, hats off to curling for earmarking money to the juniors.

But let’s take it a step further. It says here some money should be specifically earmarked for coaching development at the youth level, with the majority of the dough placed in a travel fund.

Sound coaching at the introduction levels of sport cannot be underestimated, hence making it critical that little sweepers get the proper instruction.

As for sports travel, it is the greatest challenge we face as a province, meaning a fund to pay for flights to bonspiels across the country would be huge for junior curling teams from this province.

But there’s a catch: if teams are to avail of the money, they’ll need to provide evidence they’re punching in the work. A reward would be at least two training trips off the island, thanks to the 2017 Brier.


Nobody asked me, but …

The whole Brier-for-St.-John’s thing started with a Tweet from Brad Gushue, who wondered aloud, “Why not St. John’s?” a couple of years ago. This was when Curling Canada was staging the Brier in NHL rinks. So I’ll take the question a bit further: If Gushue can do it, why not other Newfoundland teams? The curlers live and train in Newfoundland. What’s the problem with the others? Why do we consistently produce eighth, ninth and 10th-place results at national competitions? Lack of preparation? An unwillingness to do the work? A shortfall in coaching? All of the above? … Got to get this one off my chest: Agreed, the wind in Newfoundland could bend stop signs. St. John’s winter weather is awful, between the snow and freezing rain. But enough complaining from our guests about the cold. I’ve been in Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton this time of year when survival suits are required for a stroll down the street … And one more thing: whether we want to admit it or not, St. John’s and Newfoundland has this reputation for hard partying, although I’ve witnessed — and, admittedly, partaken in — lots of drinking on Montreal’s Crescent St., the Esplanade in Toronto, Argyle St. in Halifax. Vancouver was Party Central in 2010. As for St. John’s, it’s an image too easily fostered by Newfoundlanders and, with a wink and a nod, the conclusions of our guests are we all drink, dance and sing Irish ballads. So if that’s the way it’s going to be, let’s run with it. Let’s make George St. the best little street in Canada, which it definitely isn’t. And that brings us to the point: George St., mentioned by one and all visiting this week, is dirty, and needs a facelift. A lick of paint is badly required on the buildings, and the street and sidewalks, come spring and summer, need a regular pressure washing. If the downtown is what attracts visitors, let’s at least spruce it up … There’s a group in St. John’s from the World Curling Federation checking out the city and Mile One Centre as a potential stop for the world men’s championship. This year’s world men’s is in Edmonton, and is heading to Europe next year. The 2019 event is back in Canada and could be in St. John’s … Boy, the city and Mile One sure does look good on the TSN broadcasts. Very nice to see … In some sense, you have to admire the ultra-confident Northern Ontario team, but it would be hard cheering for them if you weren’t from the Soo … I’m all for etiquette, but this whole thing about scolding fans cheering for a bad shot has passed its best-before date. They do it in hockey, and soccer, and basketball and just about every other sport (except golf). Screw up, and the fans let you hear it. If a team blows a shot, should the fans pretend it didn’t happen? Or quietly give a little applause, like you know, ‘Gee, that was a great effort.’ Or let ’em have it. Please …

Robin Short is The Telegram’s Sports Editor. He can be reached by email Follow him on Twitter @TelyRobinShort 

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