If you want to get somebody's attention, a million bucks is a good way to do it.
Especially in a sport where the joy of winning a major championship is fueled mostly by the prestige of being the winner, with a few dollars (sometimes a bit more than a few, granted) being tossed in.
Rogers Sportsnet's announcement of a cool million going to any men's team that can sweep all four events in the 2012-13 Grand Slam Of Curling is sure to have been met by most curling fans with an unbelieving "excuse me?"
But there it is.
This is welcome news, not just to the likes of Glenn Howard, Mike McEwen, Jeff Stoughton, Kevin Martin and any skip who fancies his team worthy of going four for four in this season's slams, but to those same fans who gathered their composure after being assured that the million dollar bonus is, indeed, on the up and up.
That's because it vaults curling into a higher echelon of financial status, something any sport needs in order to be seen as something more than just a semi-pro concern. The bigger the money involved, the more the general public takes notice. And curling fans, most of whom are rabidly devoted to their sport, pine for the roaring game to be taken to a new level of general acceptance.
The publicity of the announcement, made today by Rogers executives Keith Pelley and Scott Moore, certainly gives curling that added certain something that only big dollars can, at least for the moment. Whether that translates into more interest in the series and more eyeballs on television screens when the events air on Sportsnet remains to be seen, but it undoubtedly illustrates Rogers' commitment to a series it purchased this past summer.
Said Moore, in a Sportsnet media release:
"Sportsnet is committed to growing the Grand Slam of Curling like never before, and the addition of the substantial bonus truly delivers on that promise. The Grand Slam is a high-performance, world-class series boasting the cream of the crop in international curling, and with these new prizes up for grabs, the competitive rivalry in the series will rise to a whole new level — which is great for curling fans, the athletes, and the sport."
The Grand Slam has begun, with it's first event, The Rogers Masters, seeing TV exposure beginning Thursday.
The women were not left out of the possibility of a big financial splash. There are two women's grand slam events slated for 2013 and if one team can win both of those competitions, they'll collect $100,000.00.
If Jennifer Jones wasn't already keyed up about returning to action as soon as possible after the birth of her daughter, this ought to do it.
With this kind of coin being dangled by Rogers (I'd have thought all their available sports dollars were tied up in the new contracts their baseball team just took on) it's now up to the curlers to make those final grand slam events ultra dramatic. Would be nice to see The Players' Championship coming into view next spring with somebody poised to scoop an extra million.
Hurry hard, curlers. There's big money available. Hurry Waaaaaaay hard.