Olympics Jerk Watch: The Swede Known as the “John McEnroe of Curling”

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Feb. 12 2014 4:19 PM

Olympics Jerk Watch: The Swede Known as the “John McEnroe of Curling”

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Sweden's Niklas Edin reacts during a men's curling match on Feb. 11, 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Photo by Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Nominee: Niklas Edin

Home country: Sweden

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Known for: Curling, cursing, sore losing.

Why he might be a jerk: Edin, the captain (or “skip”) of the Swedish men’s curling squad, is known as the “John McEnroe of curling,” a reference to the retired American tennis player known for his temper tantrums and, later, for marrying actress Tatum O’Neal. Edin, who has not yet been romantically linked to any Bad News Bears cast members, has a reputation for ranting and raving when things don’t go his way during a match. A recent AP story noted that Edin became known for “bad-tempered outbursts early in his career” and for throwing his curling broom in frustration. A good craftsman never blames his broom.

Why he might not be a jerk: While Edin’s outbursts might be outlandish by curling’s standards, he really doesn’t seem like that much of a jerk by the norms of our crazy, non-curling-fixated world. “I hate to lose. Sometimes I get too grumpy when doing that, because I just don’t accept mistakes,” he said in a 2012 video filmed by the World Curling Federation.

See? Real jerks don’t use words like “grumpy.” Plus, Edin says he’s put his temperamental ways behind him. “Now I know you need to stick together in all situations,” Edin recently told the AP. “And if anyone loses their temper, it makes it harder for the rest of the team.” So now, instead of hurling his broom in anger, he’ll just politely hang it up on the rack like everybody else. And while he did pose as Mr. January in a recent Men of Curling calendar, which is a potentially jerky thing to do, proceeds go to charity, which is decidedly non-jerky.

Jerk score: I’ll give him 1.5 out of 3 for style, because that Men of Curling calendar is pretty classy. 1 out of 3 for technical merit, because while it’s one thing to hurl a curling broom in anger, it’d be much more impressive to hurl a curling stone. 0.5 out of 3 for consistency, because a true jerk wouldn’t have had the patience to sit through a weird eight-minute interview like this one. And 1 out of 1 in the category of “Does your nickname compare you to one of the most obnoxious athletes of all time?” 4 out of 10 for Niklas Edin. Despite his nickname, he really doesn’t seem to be much of a jerk at all.

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.