I never thought #Broomgate – or #Broomgazzi – or #Broomapalooza would get the attention that it is getting. This is crazy. I hear it is going to be on CBC national news tonight. Seriously.
I wrote a blog last week calling bullshit on a lot of this – in my usual friendly, joking tone. And it has gone crazy since. I feel the need to write a bit more, especially because I think some of the parties involved ARE NOT acting in good faith, and this seems like the case of one company trying to put another company out of business.
If you are offended by the term BULLSHIT, I suggest that you stop reading now, because I use it about 100 times in this post. There is an industrial level of Bullshit being generated on this discussion, very little of it fact-based, and a lot of it coming from parties that have a direct financial incentive to skew the debate one way.
So let’s talk about a few things:
1. DIRECTIONAL FABRIC.
Here is what I can tell you, as a longtime Hardline user, and a reasonably knowledgeable curler.
Hardline Fabric is NOT DIRECTIONAL. You can talk about the abrasiveness of the fabric – but there are no lines that direct the rock one way or another. Although I have never seen the BP version, I hear that if you rub it one way – it feels different than the other way. So I guess the shag carpet in my parents’ basement would be directional fabric. Or the brush I use to get dog hair off my suit jacket. A Hardline is not. If you are saying it is – I call BULLSHIT. Show me proof.
I will tell you what I know from experience. A brand new Hardline performs differently until it is worn in. I think this has more to do with the way it fits on the head, or the malleability of the foam. But a brand new Hardline is not particularly effective as a broom. It gets wet. You usually have a bit of snow on the edges. It is not very effective at making a draw go further (which as a skip, is kind of something that I like!). I don’t think it SLOWS DOWN THE ROCK, but I can’t say I have really ever tried. If you are telling me that you can slow a rock down with a new Hardline – I call BULLSHIT. Show me proof.
Here is a pic of a used Hardline head (although admittedly it was was used by an aging skip sweeping 6 feet at a time).
You can see that the edges wear first (note the darkish ring). I think this is what causes the sharpness at the beginning. The “direction” of the fabric has nothing to do with it.
According to my current sweepers, and my longtime lead Mike Kennedy (no – not Mark Kennedy) – the “sharpness’ usually lasted about half a game – then they would return to “normal” and perform like a typical curling broom. I suspect that this sharpness likely makes them a bit more abrasive, so therefore one sweeper using a new head and corner sweeping against the curl could probably make a rock fall. I guess this is the “joystick” effect that everyone is talking about. To be honest, I have seen the same effect with other pads – like Norway pads or even Performance pads do when they are brand new. It is what we used to call “good sweeping”. I suspect that the players have seen this too, as competitive teams playing with Performance-type heads change heads pretty much every game, if not more often to have this effect.
My teams have never really benefited much form this effect with the Hardlines - because we did not see it as a benefit. Maybe I am old fashioned, but I like my sweepers to be able to drag a rock further when I am drawing against 3 in the first end, as opposed to holding a hit straight. I am sure McEwen and Caruthers probably like the fact that they could hold a hit well with a Hardline, but not sure they would always use brand new heads for this reason.
Gushue took it to another level this year. They allegedly switched pads on different types of shots (although I did not notice in the game I played against them). They would have a brand new "sharp" head on a hit and roll – so they could better manoeuvre the rock with a “sharp” head. I never saw him sweeping to slow a rock down. They switched to older “normal” pads on draws so that they could actually be effective. I agree this seems to be taking things a bit far. So okay – let’s ban the practice of switching heads between shots. One head per game! I think this rule would impact all of ONE team.
As I mentioned, I played Gushue at Cornwall. I did not see his rocks doing anything that unusual. I did not notice if he switched heads. But if people are freaking out – then fine – let’s accommodate with that rule. Let’s ban switching broomheads within a game. He is the only guy doing this anyway.
But should we all agree to ban Hardlines altogether because Gushue pushed the envelope? BULLSHIT.
So Balance Plus comes out with the Blackhead Directional broom of death that basically destroys the ice to prove a point. People have been sending me the videos of them fudging a rock around the ice – and then say “Hey Mike – here is proof that we should ban Hardlines”. BULLSHIT.
That is like showing me a video of the Atomic Bomb at Heroshima and saying “look at this video – therefore we should ban all firecrackers!” BULLSHIT.
Balance Plus and Team Howard are also shamefully sending emails to their entire curling address book saying that nobody should use or sell Hardlines. (I had it forwarded to me by a friend of mine in Ontario) Call me crazy – but isn’t that libel? I am no lawyer – but maybe you guys should think about that before hitting “send” next time. Especially when you have a direct financial benefit in having your competitors’ products banned.
I do not accept the impartiality of Balance Plus or their representatives in this discussion. They are shameless broom peddlers, using nefarious smearing tactics to trash one of their competitors and try to put them out of business. Shame on you guys. Stop it!
They are working to put Archie and Stan out of business, plain and simple - and are getting pretty close to accomplishing their goal. If this stream of bullshit results in a wider ban, or an official rule change, then Hardline is done - and we will all have to switch back to Goldlines or Balance Plusses.
If anyone believes this “integrity of the game” bullshit they are peddling to try to get this accomplished, then my sister has some lovely swampland to sell you in Florida. (BTW my sister really is a Real Estate Agent in Florida – if anyone is looking for a winter condo J )
There are some big dollars at stake for the parties involved here – so keep that in mind when you read anything (including this!).
The letter signed by 22 teams is a bit too much for me. Talk about a witch hunt! By my count, out of the 22 teams that signed, 4 are Hardline teams: Laycock, Gushue, McEwen and Caruthers. The other 18 teams basically signed a letter that said YES, “I think we should ban my competitor’s brooms!” The fact that they lumped Hardline in with that Balance Plus MONSTROSITY is BULLSHIT.
And now Balance Plus has put out a Press Release calling Directional Fabric the end of curling as we know it – and saying that Hardlines need to be banned. And for fun they also imply that the Hardline teams have won because of the Directional Fabric.
If I were Mike McEwen or Reid Caruthers, I would be seriously offended by a press release that basically implied that they have won last year because they cheated. I call BULLSHIT here too.
Don’t ask me to sign a Bullshit letter saying that I will play the game with integrity and not use Directional Fabric.
I always play the game with integrity. And I am pretty sure Reid and Brad and Mike would say the same thing.
If I believed I was cheating by using the Hardlines, I would not use them. I do not need a letter to say that, but thanks Nolan.
So what am I going to do?
Okay – first of all, anyone who ever questions my integrity in this sport can GFY (anybody who wants to know what that stands for can write to me personally!). I have played the game honestly for as long as I have played. If you want to accuse me of cheating – say it to my face. I dare you.
That being said, I like Hardlines. Not because they manoeuvre rocks in some mysterious way, but because they do what a good curling broom is supposed to do: drag my rocks further on draws and hold hits straight when I need it. They are light and fast. I would very much like to keep sweeping with them without being labelled a cheater.
Some teams are saying if you turn a Hardline pad inside-out, then they are okay. In other words they are less effective, but still pretty effective. I think that is what Caruthers and McEwen are doing this weekend in Manitoba – but not sure. My team tried it, and was not enthused with the feel.
I will be playing David Murdoch next week in Gatineau in my first game, who I believe signed the letter. I will be playing with my Hardlines one way or another. Maybe inside out - maybe not.
What has to happen next?
1. IMPARTIAL TESTING!!! The bullshit to facts ratio in this debate is 1000:1 right now. Maybe Curling Canada needs to step in, and please involve the manufacturers. Let’s get some facts before we change rules, or submit to bans. Please do not send me more bullshit videos of magic brooms. The fact that you can put a piece of sandpaper on a stick and destroy the ice to make a rock fall is not proof of anything, other than you have too much time on your hands.
2. Can we stop trying to put Hardline out of business? Archie and Stan set out to make a better broom, not an illegal one. They do not deserve the treatment they are getting. They are not cheaters. They are not scam artists. Can Richard Hart and Team Howard and Balance Plus stop putting out emails calling for Archie and Stan’s head on a stake? Let’s take a deep breath and remember that nobody is trying to ruin curling here.
Last point -
I really hate writing blog posts like this.
I like writing fun, pithy stories about curling. This is no fun. I am writing this because I believe that Archie and Stan are getting screwed in this broomgate - broomgazzi bullshit. I can’t sit on the sidelines here.
Plus now I feel like if I show up and play next week in Gatineau with my Hardlines, people are going to point and say “cheater”! I just can’t stand the hypocrisy of it all.
You can say that I am biased – and of course I am. Arch and Stan have been very good to me and my teams (both Mixed and Men's) over the past few years. But all I am appealing for is for facts and reason to dictate the terms of this discussion, not BULLSHIT and smear tactics.
btw I NEVER delete any comments from the section below except for spam - so have at me!