Was Argyle The Right Choice?

norway-curling-2010

Just from immediately looking at this image from purely observation, I see a curling team of three male players wearing colorful pants of red and blue diamonds. All three of them do not appear to have any visible muscles or look extremely fit. They are wearing red shirts athletic polo-type shirts with what appear to be their team name on the back. The first guy on the left is looking down at the ice with his legs bent a bit and his heels up in the air. He also has a battery pack strapped to his waistband and is holding a type of broom. The player in the center is bent down on one knee with a circular stone in front of him, looking past the stone straight at what is ahead of him. There is a broom that is visible and laying on the ice next to him. The third player on the right is also looking forward, holding a broom, and also has a battery pack strapped to his waistband. The shot of the photograph looks as if it was taken from a distance with a telephoto lens at an angle higher than eye level at center ice.

Looking further into the image, the colorful pants are recognized as a type of Argyle utilizing Norway’s traditional red and blue flag colors. The battery packs are transmitters used for recording any conversations held on-ice by the team and can be broadcasted to viewers on television.  Doing further online research, the “brooms” that are seen in the photo are in fact called a “Curling Broom” or “Curling Brush” (Curling). The stone is called a “Curling Rock,” which is made of a dense type of granite.  Something I also recognized among the two players on the right is that they appear to have a “mobile gaze” in the image. The angle of their gaze goes beyond the scope of the photograph itself and the viewer is left to guess what they are looking at.

I would say this photo represents the stereotype that Curling is not a sport, Curlers are not athletes, and the sport is a joke.  Partially, I blame this stereotype on the way the sport is portrayed through the media. Just by looking at this photo, the pants seem to be the focal point of the image. We can’t even see what they are looking at. Instead of using an image showing the entire ice sheet, the photographer chose to submit this close-up photo. The visible transmitters on their waistbands adds tackiness to the sport as well. I don’t recall seeing these on the waistbands of players in other Olympic Winter sports. The fact that the athletes are not in excellent physical shape plays into Social Darwinism as well. If the Olympics are truly a test of survival of the fittest, then perhaps society has a point. The use of a broom is associated with a domestic chore, rather than a sport. It becomes hard to break cultural associations when one is not actively watching Curling and being open minded.

A USA Today article interviewing one of team Norway’s curlers revealed that there was no rich cultural history set within the uniforms besides the colors that were used (Litman). The use of Argyle for the uniform pants was an idea he came up with to defy the bland black and gray uniforms that were given to them initially.  Loudmouth, a flamboyant sportswear attire company was hired to produce these pants for the team, which ended up setting a trend in Olympic Curling Uniforms. By wearing Argyle, team Norway utilized the media’s mockery of them to their own advantage, thus bringing more media coverage to the sport. I believe by doing that, they brought more comical media coverage than actual serious air time of the sport. Viewers now associate Curling with the iconic Argyle pants and instantly relate it to the uniform of medieval Court Jesters.

 “Curling Equipment and History.” Olympic.org. N.p.. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.olympic.org/curling-equipment-and-history&gt;.

Litman, Laken. “Cancel the Olympics because Norwa’ys curling team has already won.” usatoday.com. N.p., 21 Jan 2014. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/01/cancel-the-olympics-because-norways-curling-team-has-already-won/&gt;.

Withnall, Adam. “Winter Olympics 2014: Norway curling team unveils much-awaited outfits for Sochi .” Independent.co.uk. N.p., 22 Jan 2014. Web. 7 Feb 2014. <http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/article9077380.ece/ALTERNATES/w460/norway-curling-2010.jpg&gt;.

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One Response to Was Argyle The Right Choice?

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    What strikes me about this image (other than the pants) in the intensity of the three figures engaged in the activity. How would you add observations about their focus and the apparent tension/movement of their bodies? Could something perhaps be said about the dynamics of teamwork? Their gathered, crouching positions alludes to a sort of shared goal or desire that might also be worth exploring, particularly if considering a discussion of whether or not curling is a sport.

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