Sometime in the next week, Canada’s top jock for 2017 will be identified as someone not named Rachel Homan.
And that’s a mistake. Also a shame.
I mean, no homebrew has dominated her or his sport this year like Homan. But, hey, she’s a curler and, based on 77 years of snubs, curlers need not apply as our country’s athlete of the year. Which is also a mistake and a shame.
Think about it. In no sport—not even hockey—have us hosers experienced greater global glory than curling. We’ve hurried hard to 52 gold medals (36 men, 16 women) at world championships and another five Olympic gold (three men, two women). That’s a lot of glitter. Like 57 carat worth of glitter.
By way of comparison, we’ve won 36 world puck crowns and 13 Olympic gold. Total: 49. In figure skating, we have 38 world and Olympic titles (men’s and women’s singles, pairs and ice dancing).
Yet not once since the Lou Marsh Trophy’s inception in 1936 has anyone from the hurry-hard crowd earned a salute as this country’s top jock. There’ve been figure skaters and synchronized swimmers, kayakers and bobsledders, harness racers and weightlifters, speed skaters and jockeys, wrestlers and rowers, auto racers and golfers. But never a curler, despite an unparalleled history of international success that, if you were to include our juniors, totals 86 world championships/Olympics gold.
Thus, were I a betting girl, I’d place a wager on baseball player Joey Votto getting the nod as the Lou Marsh winner this year, because the Cincinnati Reds batsman/first baseman put up some rather gaudy numbers in a team game largely defined by individual numbers that captivate and influence the people (read: mainstream sports media) whose task it is to choose our country’s Jock One.
If my guess is wrong and voters dismiss Votto, then surely the top jock will be Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby, based solely on their body of work during the first six months of the year. McDavid, of course, finished the 2016-17 National Hockey League season as the leading point collector and most valuable player, while Crosby put more pucks in the net than anyone else and captained his Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup title.
Other names have been mentioned for consideration. Like rapidly ascending tennis player Denis Shapovalov, who had an inspiring, one-month gush of success during the late summer but, ultimately, compiled a losing record and failed to win a tournament on the main circuit. There’s also the totally hugable Brooke Henderson, a delightful young woman who twice finished atop the leaderboard on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour.
But Homan isn’t feeling the love. No one is, or has been, pumping her tires.
And that makes no sense, except that it could be the lords and ladies of the Fourth Estate still look upon curling as jockdom’s red-headed stepchild. They don’t see a legitimate sporting endeavor. They see a social gathering. They don’t see athletes. They see school teachers, accounts and sales reps enjoying a hobby. Or they see beer-swilling, pot-bellied practitioners of the Ed Werenich ilk. Seriously. We deliver our highest athletic hosanna to wrestlers, rowers, kayakers, harness racers and sync swimmers but never a curler who’s won world and Olympic championships? In 77 years?
That isn’t just a snub. It’s giving them the finger. Donald Trump gets more respect from the Little Rocket Man in Pyongyang.
Rachel Homan and her gal pals emerged from the Roar of the Rings on Sunday as our female curling reps at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea, so she should be a no-brainer for the Lou Marsh Trophy.
Homan led her team to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, with a 12-2 record. She ran the table at the world championship, going 13-0. She won the season-ending Champions Cup on the Grand Slam of Curling circuit, finishing 6-1. Add to that her record at the just-concluded Olympic Trials in Ottawa, 9-1. Do the math. That’s 40-4. Against the best in the world. Who in sports does that? Serena Williams and Rachel Homan.
Make no mistake, Canada’s 2017 athlete of the year was curling in Ottawa last week…I just wonder if Lou Marsh voters were paying attention.