Einarson attacked online by angry trolls

Team Canada skip criticized for Metis heritage, cuss words, missed shots, uniform


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It’s every athlete’s dream to one day represent their country on the world stage.

Now imagine achieving that goal, but instead of being showered with admiration and respect from fans coast to coast, you’re met with misogyny and racism.

Kerri Einarson doesn’t have to imagine any of that because it’s been her reality.

<p>Kerri Einarson represented Canada at the World Women’s Curling Championship last week in Sandviken, Sweden, with teammates Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Harris.</p>

Kerri Einarson represented Canada at the World Women’s Curling Championship last week in Sandviken, Sweden, with teammates Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Harris.

The pride of Camp Morton represented Canada at the World Women’s Curling Championship last week in Sandviken, Sweden, with teammates Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Harris. For the second year in a row, the four-time Canadian champions finished in third place after beating Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg to claim the final spot on the podium.

Since returning to Canadian soil, the focus hasn’t been on her shiny new bronze medal, it’s been the online abuse the team received while away. Einarson went into detail about it this week in an interview with Postmedia and declined to chat about it again on Friday.

It’s impossible to blame her, because who would want to keep reliving such hate?

Keyboard warriors criticized her appearance, bashed the team for having the Manitoba Métis Federation — one of their sponsors — logo on their pants, voiced their displeasure with the stylized Maple Leaf on the back of their jackets, made inappropriate remarks about Einarson’s Métis heritage, and jumped all over the skip if the broadcast picked up on her swearing.

And of course, that doesn’t include all the negativity directed at their on-ice performance, as many expected them to win gold.

Einarson also shared a story from last year where her workplace got a call from someone shortly after she won nationals saying she’s a horrible mom for being away from her family and that she’s a terrible curler.

Sadly, this is nothing new.

Chelsea Carey — who won the Scotties in 2016 and 2019 — has been vocal on Twitter and in interviews showing her support for Team Einarson as the Winnipeg skip experienced similar vitriol when she donned the red and white.

“I don’t have my notifications on, and I don’t go looking for comments on things,” said Sweeting, in a phone interview.

“You’d love to see the good ones out there, but you just can’t risk coming across a negative one,” said Sweeting a former Team Alberta skip.

“But I did see a post saying I’m a terrible skip and I’m an even worse third and I’m the reason Canada’s losing the games. And I think we only lost two games at that point. So, at that point, I just stopped going on (my phone).”

“But there’s been things over the years, too. I remember quite a few years ago someone said they’d cheer for me if I had straighter teeth. There’s always going to be someone out there saying something negative like that. It’s not OK… You don’t know what someone’s going through, so take a second before judging someone on their appearance, personality, or their race.”

This type of behaviour was never appropriate, but the fact it’s still happening in 2023 is downright embarrassing.

“It’s just tough as an athlete to continuously put yourself out there under the microscope. I get that you’re subject to some criticism, but the personal attacks are just not OK,” said Sweeting.

And yes, the men also catch flack when they miss shots and fall flat on the big stage, but if you think it’s anywhere near this, you’re way off the mark.

“People write us and comment on a female’s looks, their tattoos, their haircut, their makeup, their voice, and nobody has ever written to me to talk about how a certain male athlete looks… And I find it deeply disturbing because there seems to be kind of a feeling out there that it’s OK. There’s a standard out there somewhere that someone’s made up around women that it’s a free for all and you can say whatever you want about their appearance,” Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson told the Free Press on Friday.

“And I say it as a CEO, I say it as a female, and I say it as a female in a fairly male dominated sector, that it’s sad, but I’ll also say it’s bull—. It’s one of those things that infuriates me. You have no idea how much more this motivates me to make sure our female athletes are seen, heard, applauded and all those other things.”

Curling Canada spends a lot of time on social media blocking users and deleting comments, but they can’t censor everything. There’s no magic wand for Henderson to wave to make the trolls go away, but she thinks the organization needs to find a way to surround teams with more resources to help combat the noise.

“What we can do, is first of all, work with our female and male athletes to give them the best and most supportive experience when they go off to compete and represent Canada. That means giving them the social, morale, mental, and physical support to get through what is a very difficult competition,” said Henderson.

“The second part, and we’ve worked really hard at this, is to continue to celebrate and grow the women’s game. It’s every bit as good, high quality, strategic, and athletic as the men’s game is.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t an obvious solution. There’s always going to be at least a few bad apples on every tree, but curling is a game that desperately needs more people to think to themselves ‘Would I want someone to say this about my mother, daughter, sister, or friend?’ before hitting send.

“I think standing together and not being afraid to speak out goes a long way,” said Sweeting.

“I really appreciate Chelsea sticking up for us and she definitely knows how it feels. She went through it too, but maybe didn’t get the opportunity to speak up about it. So, I think that people being willing to talk about it more can go a long way and hopefully, we can keep this from happening for the younger generation that’s watching this happen.”

Twitter: @TaylorAllen31

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of...


Updated on Friday, March 31, 2023 6:00 PM CDT: Headline fixed

Updated on Friday, March 31, 2023 8:48 PM CDT: Adds tagline

Updated on Saturday, April 1, 2023 9:10 AM CDT: Adds missing quotation marks

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