Within the past weeks, a new technology has emerged that has caused a major debate in the curling community. The new technology, often called “directional fabric,” apparently has the ability to change the sport entirely.
Although this technology was never intended to be sold, it was recently used in competition which created an unfair competitive advantage. Over forty elite players from a recent tournament gathered to sign a petition to ban this technology. Another important effect of this technology is that it may force the sport to create new rules. Curling had no previous rules banning any sort of technology as long as it did not intentionally damage the ice, but that is now being reconsidered. This new technology works by carving tiny grooves into the ice, as opposed to just reducing the friction between the ice and the rock, allowing players to steer the puck more easily and even slow it down. Interestingly enough, the first prototype broom was created by simply reversing the nylon cover on the broom head. This allows the waterproof coating on the back of the nylon to come in contact with the ice, and the player to steer the rock more easily.
This article really got me thinking, “Is technology advancing too quickly?” Curling was originally played with brooms to sweep away snow from outdoor rinks, but with modern technology players are able to steer the rock with extreme precision. This may make the sport more exciting to watch, but is this “directional fabric” the end of advancements in curling? If they are planning to ban this fabric then people will ask why they still allow nylon covers at all. Curling would be no fun to watch with just regular brooms, so the real struggle seems to be finding the correct balance in technology. It seems comparable to baseball, and how players are not allowed to use certain types of bats. However, if curling technology does come to a halt, sports that are making use of modern technology may overtake curling and make it obsolete. Many physical sports, such as American Football and Hockey become more exciting to watch, because players often get hit hard. New technologies in these sports help to prevent injuries such as concussions, permitting the sports to become increasingly physical. On the flip-side, if curling technology stops advancing spectators may view the sport as outdated and too easy, and therefore stop watching. It is very difficult to predict the effects of “directional fabric,” but just as new smartphones replaced old landlines, we may see new sports begin to replace old ones.