Historic Win, or Proof Bowling’s Not a Sport?

Kelly Kulick Crushed Some Guy Named Chris Barnes.

So, there’s this thing called professional bowling.  And in this sport they have what’s known as the Tournament of Champions.  They round up all the good bowlers they can find, and invite one good female bowler.  Then they all just battle it out.  This is hearsay.  I’ve never been lucky enough to see the Tournament of Champions.  I have watched bowling once or twice, though, and I have bowled.  So, there’s my adequate background.  Something wild happened in the Tournament of Champions yesterday.  The darn girl won the thing.  Not only did she win, but she cruised through the final match, winning by 70 pins.  She didn’t actually knock over 70 more pins.  Bowling has that weird scoring system, but still…70?  That must be like winning a marathon by 5 miles.

It’s a big win for female athletics.  I can’t think of anything equivalent, but we all know what the haters are going to say.  Bowling isn’t a sport.  It’s like a woman beating a man in darts.  The sport vs. non-sport issue is always a delicate line.  Golf gets thrown in there, race car drivers, bowling, things of this nature.  Are they sports, or just highly refined skills?  I tend to lean toward a broad definition.  Anything that you can compete at, requires a honed skill, is basically a sport in my mind.  A runner may have far more endurance than a golfer, but a golfer could be vastly more coordinated.

Bowling is tough, though.  You don’t have to be in great shape, though I would say the endurance needed for a professional event is slightly underrated (like golf).  Also, it’s just a repeatable motion in a relatively controlled environment.  Golf has the repeated motion, but the course changes, the conditions change.  I know there’s something about oil on the lanes…whatever…the lanes are the same for the whole tournament.  There’s also that notion of perfection being reachable in bowling.  The 300 game.  Not only is there a definitive ceiling on what you can score, it’s reached relatively frequently.  By pros and amateurs.

Because I play golf, and people love to use the “Craig Stadler” argument against it, I think I am a little more apt to defend bowling.  These people aren’t LeBron, but they do their thing.   Maybe not the most rigorous of events, but with Kelly Kulick’s win, a true beacon of sporting equality.  Or something.


16 thoughts on “Historic Win, or Proof Bowling’s Not a Sport?

  1. I think the way i judge sports is “if i took Average Joe off the street and gave him intense training, could i make him a professional in that sport?”

    I don’t think training alone gets you to pro in golf, running, ice skating, probably not Nascar either (inherent mindset and all that i guess?)…but bowling i feel like anyone could be a pro, and a competitive one at that.


  2. 3-PUTT

    you must have been instigating.


    let me start again….chhchmm

    Dear 3-Putt

    While I appreciate your capacity to consider a myriad of ways to support the legitimacy of Kelly in the world of male sports and sport in general – you sort of shot yourself in the … in between the eye. Kelly is an athlete, in America, who happens to be a woman.

    Q-feminist, born and raised at the mighty un-sexy instutution that produced similar radicals such as Betty January Draper has concluded that not sports, but most men who subscribe to the narrow sense of what sport consists of and who should participate are to blame for athlete v. non-athlete?!

    I heart you 3-PUTT, adore so much that comes out of that brilliant brain. But the argument you made, was in fact – short-sighted.

    You basically looked at sports in which the male sex and men with male sex characterics tend to excel (or be socially promoted to males) because of various XYZ characteristics. While Ms. Sassy South African Runner raises another conversations- may I just challenge this post by saying…

    your comment:
    Anything that you can compete at, requires a honed skill, is basically a sport in my mind.

    …should have stopped there, then you said it yourself…but then went on to fixate on how certain sports are excepted as sport.

    Or is your def of sport what is considered sporty in our American culture? IE, NOT Romanian gymnasts, don’t try that at home mr sporty spice; Russian skaters; Chinese divers…

    that is extreme athleticism.

    But in the big American capital of “most men don’t have to grow up if they remain true fans or excel at true American popular sports…”

    I could see how this post could be a mind puzzle.

    The issue is that women are second rate in this country, unless somehow enhancing something classically-American-male.

    Q-Seven Sister

    • Wow. I’ve never had so many words put in my mouth.

      I didn’t even say bowling wasn’t a sport. I think you’re basically just spouting your own agenda, which is fine, but I think you completely missed my argument, or just read the headline and went off.

      I was simply raising the question…

      As to your comments. Fact is, men are bigger/stronger/faster. That is why they differentiate between men’s and women’s track/golf/basketball…whatever…

      Would you like to eliminate that? Fine with me, but you aren’t going to have any women winning anything.

      But, I wasn’t talking about any of that.

      I was saying that people will use this to make the argument that bowling isn’t a sport. I didn’t say that myself.

      Then I went on to question bowling as a sport, not based on male vs. female. But, the activity in general. I said, repeatable motion, lack of real physical conditioning, relative ease at which “perfection” can be achieved.

      I missed the part where I said, “and because women are just as good as men”.

      and, then at the end, I actually sided with bowlers.

      • To fuel the fire, i don’t think Bowling is a sport (not even close to one), nor do i think there is any sport at which a woman could compete with a man on a level playing field. Even Riggs/Billy Jean King was skewed, and it’s hailed as a major victory for the women’s movement. Bottom line is if you put a woman up against a man in any athletic contest, she will be decimated and most likely injured if it’s a “physical” sport. Go ahead name a sport in which a woman could dominate a man on a level playing field…i’ll wait.

        Sorry i’m not sorry.

  3. Yeah, i would basically agree.

    which is why there’s men’s and women’s track or whatever.

    are the women athletes? of course they are.

    are they better athletes than I am. sure.

    but, whatever woman isn’t going to beat Usain Bolt in a race.

    Fact remains, all of that wasn’t my point at all.

    In terms of bowling…the men wouldn’t be athletes either.

    I think about the sport vs. non-sport thing a lot, and saw this as a chance to bring it up, because as I said, “haters” would point to this an example that bowling was some fat person’s hobby. I was hoping to center the debate on sport vs. non-sport, not male vs. female.

    • clearly, my point…for a culturally informed woman…it is not this separated: sport vs. non-sport, not male vs. female.

      sorry. but i’m glad to have ellicited the true stance behind the gloss.


      • I still don’t think i have any idea what your point was. Especially since you referenced gymnasts, while ignoring that what male gymnasts excel at women gymnasts can’t do.

        And when it comes to sports, yes, women are second class citizens.

      • dear 27…

        i get your point. sorry, mine was a little indirect.

        but you aren’t getting away with this:

        “And when it comes to sports, yes, women are second class citizens.”

        let me be more word efficient…

        athletes are athletes.

        many men are better at most athletic tasks. also, many MEN are masters at the couch potato, and many MEN would get their butts kicked by a women on the treadmill, or in other “situations” that require endurance.

        for the record, men’s gymnastics was invented for the male “form.” AFTER women’s existed. Adaptive. a lot of sports thrive in the US because MEN are better at those sports.

        we US women like to stroke those egos, and well – this blog is classic example of men strokin’ men.

        27, i’ll give you 27 bucks if you can athletically straddle yourself through a split on a balance beam. Q can…and word is out, she’s female.

        yeah, that’s athletic.


  4. Oh yeah i agree. It’s not a sport, i think if it’s a hobby where anyone could compete with a pro, it’s not a sport. And no, golf isn’t that b/c they change the course and there isn’t a scratch golfer/less than scratch golfer who would maintain that walking, playing the courses they play (green speed and all) with the length they play. Bowling? I mean, is bocce a sport? horseshoes?

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