The Breakdown: Playin’ with the big boys
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
It’s pretty obvious (even though I’ll say it anyway) that this past week was a pretty exciting few days for the wide, wide world of sports. We had a pair of intensely played championship pro football games, the wrapping up of U.S. Olympic qualifyings, Kobe-LeBron and LeBron-D-Wade NBA games, and golfer Bill Haas won his first career PGA Tour event.
OK, so that last one wasn’t exciting – I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.
In all seriousness, though, it’s been a week in sports that makes it very difficult to decide on a column topic.
I mean, we have Brett Favre, Adrian Peterson and the Minnesota Vikings – a team that has one of the most tortured groups of fans – coughing up the ball (seemingly) every other play and ultimately choking away a chance to play in a Super Bowl. Then there’s the whole idea of a Peyton Manning-New Orleans Saints Super Bowl, which pins arguably one of the best signal callers of all time against one of the worst sports franchises of all time. There’s a number of Coloradans that made Olympic teams, and the NBA had a couple of games that forced star players to actually try during the regular season. (I watched the first of the two games, and, I swear, they were actually running!)
But none of those are really worthy: Favre gets talked about too much, the Super Bowl doesn’t take place for a couple of weeks, nothing out of the ordinary happened with Oly teams being announced and an NBA regular-season game is, well, still an NBA regular-season game.
So, what should we talk about? How about bowling.
And, no, that wasn’t a joke.
Lost a bit in the blur of mainstream media was a potentially significant sports moment that happened in one of the few professional sports where being overweight, unathletic or over-40 has no effect on your level of success.
On Sunday, 32-year-old Kelly Kulick won the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas. In case her name is ambiguous – Yes, Kulick is a woman, and, yes, she is the first woman to ever win a PBA event.
Sure, this is still bowling, but it’s pretty significant nonetheless. As women’s rights activist and tennis legend Billie Jean King said (to a number of news outlets (and not me)) Kulick’s win “is not only historic, it serves as a motivational and inspirational event for girls and women competing at all levels around the world.”
I couldn’t have said it any better (which is why I used the quote).
Although, the more I thought about this story, one thought came to mind: Why hadn’t it happened sooner?
If I had to pick the three professional sports that a woman would win in first, the list would go like this: 1) darts; 2) billiards; and 3) bowling. So, when you really think about it, a woman beating a man in bowling shouldn’t be that surprising.
On the other hand, though, Kulick’s win shouldn’t be downplayed. After all, it’s a pretty substantial feat for her and will help to grow women’s bowling and even women’s sports.
I know, it’s not like we’re going to see women in the NBA because of this, or even winning on the PGA Tour, but, with Kulick taking home a $40,000 first-place check and getting a two-year exemption on the tour, she’s basically proved that a woman can make a living playing a professional sport against the big boys. And, in pro bowling, a lot of them are definitely big boys.
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