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.