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Kelly Kulick is the Best Bowler in the World
February 25, 2010 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Kelly Kulick just won the PBA Tournament (warning automatic video starts with this link). She is one of the first female professional athletes to ever win a prominent national sporting event against the best males in the sport. Interesting article questioning why she isn't being given more national recognition.
posted by bove (71 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not willing to dismiss an element of sexism in the failure to report on her accomplishments (David Whitley's comment is particularly stupid and offensive), but I think there is an easier explanation: no one cares about bowling.
posted by oddman at 10:00 AM on February 25, 2010 [15 favorites]


"This is the equivalent of "Man Gives Birth!""

I disagree. Not to take away from her accomplishment at all, but it's bowling. It's still seen as a lazy and casual sport by most of the United States (unlike the Philippines, where it's the national sport). If bowling were as popularly regarded as, say, baseball then I think she'd get much more attention.

So, I think the bigger question is "why doesn't bowling get more respect?".
posted by hanoixan at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, there's that one bowler, that I've heard of who I don't know the name of.
posted by smackfu at 10:01 AM on February 25, 2010


Asked and answered in the article: They hate bowling.
posted by zpousman at 10:03 AM on February 25, 2010


oddman: "... I think there is an easier explanation: no one cares about bowling."

This. I mean: Can most people name even one male professional bowler?

Also: the links don't appear to establish that she is the best bowler in the world. You can win a tour title - even the most prestigious one - without being ranked #1 in the world.

But yes, this is absolutely historic, a great inspiration for female athletes, and a remarkable story I had totally missed - so thank you for posting it.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:04 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought this issue was put to bed when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs? I've been wondering about that as I've been watching the Olympics. Clearly, the spread of physiological difference between the sexes is a factor for some sports (average strength and body mass, blah blah blah), but I can't see the point of gender segregation in some other competitions. Golf? Curling? Pool/billiards? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?
posted by snottydick at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


She'd probably get the same reaction if she'd won the national championship in disc golf.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:05 AM on February 25, 2010


Can most people name even one male professional bowler?

Lord, I could in the mid-late 70s when I was a kid -- I was a little bowling FREAK. Dick Weber (and his son Pete), Nelson Burton Jr, Carmen Salvino, Earl Anthony, Marshall Holman . . . .
posted by JanetLand at 10:18 AM on February 25, 2010


Incidentally, this happened a month ago.
posted by smackfu at 10:18 AM on February 25, 2010


Well, and a lot of us just barely consider bowling a "sport", if at all. It leans way over towards the "game" end of the game vs. sport continuum. (chess = pure game, marathon = pure sport, hockey = somewhere in between) And women routinely best men at games, so we're pretty used to that.

I mean, is a dart player an "athlete"? What about pool/billiards? Poker? Scrabble?
posted by LordSludge at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear lord, sports columns are the worst.
Usually, Whitley is excellent. But on this subject, he's wearing a brain burka. He wrote: "Rule No. 1 in determining whether an activity is a sport: If the best female in the world can beat the best male in the world, it doesn't qualify."

That's the most asinine thing I've ever read. Yes, I think any "sport" you can do while drinking lots of beer isn't really a shining example of athleticism. ESPN probably devotes more of its programming to the "sport" of poker as it does to bowling.

And if Danica Patrick does well in NASCAR and win the cup, is Whitley going to stand there with all the NASCAR fans saying their lifeblood isn't really a sport?

The big endorsement deals for bowling are for bowling balls and shit. The reason she isn't on TV like Danica Patrick and Michelle Wei is they're not bowlers. This isn't sexism. This is because bowling isn't a sport people follow. If she want to be a bowling champion and tear down the wall of sexism in bowling, great. But if she wants to big endorsement deals and her picture on a Wheaties box, she picked the wrong sport.

[NOT BOWLIST]

I also take exception to first sentence of the article:
Kelly Kulick found out early that men hate being whipped by women.

Actually several men will actually pay money for women to whip them.
posted by birdherder at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calling it "The Greatest Moment in Women's Sports" just because she won a bowling tournament seems pretty insensitive to all of the great female athletes past and present.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, I think the bigger question is "why doesn't bowling get more respect?".

Because anything you can do with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth may as well be flippy cup.
posted by fusinski at 10:22 AM on February 25, 2010


Yeah, the division has never made sense to me. Darts, billiards, curling??

It's (not surprisingly) everywhere. Look at the Oscars -- Best Actress? I'd love to one day watch a hermaphrodite blow us away on screen and watch the Academy scramble to label his/her performance.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 10:23 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because anything you can do with a cigarette hanging out of your mouth may as well be flippy cup.

Sixty-two PGA Tour wins including 10 majors says different.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:35 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, I think the bigger question is "why doesn't bowling get more respect?".

Yeah, I'm no expert and I haven't been in a bowling alley in probably 30 years, but it looks like you can be an old, fat, one-legged smoker on a respirator and still be a pretty good league bowler. Maybe not the world champion, but good enough to fuck with the Jesus. Bowling looks a lot more like darts -- stand up, waddle over, pick up a ball, aim, fire, waddle back, sit down, swig, puff (though I suppose they no longer allow smoking in bowling alleys), wait for your turn -- than like an actual (athletic) sport such as basketball (run down, jump, shoot, run back, jump, block, run down, run back, runrunrunrunrun...). If you took almost everything out of basketball and reduced it to taking turns at foul shots, you'd have something like bowling (or darts).
posted by pracowity at 10:40 AM on February 25, 2010


I still subscribe to the "objective means of determining who won" test, to distinguish sport from non-sport. That would make bowling a sport, but figure skating a pastime (since it's judged, not objectively won or lost). Darts, billiards, curling: all clearly sports. Same with chess. Diving? I'm afraid not. Ice dancing? Let's not even go there.
posted by rusty at 10:41 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


So drinking games that can be won by any giant fat guy with a thirst would be sports but precise ice skating competitions that can be won only through years of intense practice would not be sports?
posted by pracowity at 10:46 AM on February 25, 2010


Umm... she won a PBA Major title like, a month ago. I watched it on ESPN.

She's not the best bowler in the world. Lots of people would argue that she's not even the best female bowler in the world (although I would point out that she's the women's series point leader). She had a great week at the Tournament of Champions, and bowled possibly her personal best. I think she bowled like back-to-back 277 games in match play, earned the best spot for televised play (3rd), and her style of bowling was more suited to the changing lane conditions than her competitors' styles. I'm not an expert, but it was an "On Any Given Sunday" situation that went in her favor.

I don't think that this is proof that the top women's bowlers are capable of beating the top men's bowlers on a regular basis. Not yet, at least, and since there's no Women's tour we might never get the institutional support required to support high-quality women bowlers.

Yes, I think any "sport" you can do while drinking lots of beer isn't really a shining example of athleticism.

Then baseball isn't a sport, as I can attest from several years of Beer Ball.

I think the people who assume that no physical training is required to be a professional bowler needs to actually try to throw a 15 or 16 pound bowling ball at over 20 mph with 300 rpm with any sort of accuracy.
posted by muddgirl at 10:49 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Women bowlers outplaying men isn't new. In 1964, Sylvia Wene once beat Dick Weber, one of the best bowlers to play the game, in a special promotional tournament... on a 707 cargo jet flying from New York to Dallas. It was called "Operation Astrobowl" and promoted by American Airlines's cargo service and AMF, who had Walt Fitzsimmons design and install the 79-foot lane, complete with automatic pin setting machine, side channels and ball returns.

Despite being shown on more than 175 stations around the world, I can't for the life of me find a youtube video of the event, or I would so FPP it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:51 AM on February 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


This lady really abides.
posted by Mister_A at 10:53 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


but it looks like you can be an old, fat, one-legged smoker on a respirator and still be a pretty good league bowler

League bowling is amateur. You can be a "pretty good league bowler" with my spouse's average - a 150. That's because amateur leagues are handicapped. You know, unlike professional bowling.

When you find me an old fat one-legged smoker who bowls a 223 average, we'll talk.
posted by muddgirl at 10:54 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not to take away from her accomplishment at all, but it's bowling. It's still seen as a lazy and casual sport by most of the United States (unlike the Philippines, where it's the national sport)

I got excited, then I went to wikipedia and got confused. Under Culture in the Philippines: Sports in the Philippines, Sipa is listed as the national sport. Then on the separate Sports in the Philippines and the National symbols of the Philippines pages, Modern Arnis is listed as the national sport (and national martial arts form). Apparently the latter is true, as of December, 2009, and that claims that Sipa was the national sport was "baseless and incorrect." And from this jaunt through the interwebbery, I found that there is an Official MARPPIO Blog for all things Modern Arnis.

Not to decrease the status of bowling in the Philippines, some sites dedicated to Filipino Sports list bowling as one of the four big Bs of Philippine sports (alongside billiards, boxing and basketball). Also, bowler Paeng Nepomuceno "is considered a national sports hero in the Philippines", which speaks to bowling's status there.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2010


If golf and curling rise to the level of "sport" (and I think they do), then bowling is a sport.

Bravo for Kelly Kulick.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:58 AM on February 25, 2010


Not sure how long the link will last, but you can watch it here
posted by exit at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Then baseball isn't a sport, as I can attest from several years of Beer Ball.

Were you a professional Beer Baller? Because there seems to be a lot more athleticism required for professional baseball.
posted by birdherder at 11:06 AM on February 25, 2010


Were you a professional Beer Baller?

Of course not.

But then again, many of us seem to be under the impression that professional bowlers drink and smoke during professional bowling games.

I can attest that this is not true. Of course, it happens during amateur league games and tournaments, just like we drink during amateur kickball and amateur baseball, and give them funny names.
posted by muddgirl at 11:11 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now that I've gotten past the well-warranted congratulations, I've had many conversations about what constitutes a "sport." This is what drunken sportswriters do for fun.

The conversations have boiled down to two theoretical definitions.

Definition A: "A sport involves the concept of defense."

Under this definition:

Not sports
* All track and field events
* Gymnastics
* Swimming
* Motor sports
* Horse racing
* Skiing
* Bowling
* Golf

Essentially, unless you're playing against someone, meaning, actively preventing someone from objectively scoring, it is not a spot. For example, in golf, you cannot deliberately interfere with the other player's shots, and may even be required to move your ball out of the other player's way. In a race, even in "pack" races like a 5K, there is jockeying for advantageous position, but you could (theoretically) just run/drive faster than your opponent and never have to interact with them at all. Result: Not a sport.

On the other hand, under Definition A, curling is a sport, because you are required to position the rocks to prevent your opponent from scoring.

Under this definition, is bowling a sport? No, it's not. You do not interact with your opponent at all.

Definition B: "There are only four types of sporting activities, all of which may be deemed 'sports,' but they fall into separate classifications."

The four types of sporting activities are...

1) Baseball, softball, cricket, rounders and their variants. In this category, scoring is done by turn-based advancement to specific zones or bases, and the defense attempts to control the means to prevent advancement (i.e. the ball). Because of this key difference, this category differs from category 3, below.

2) Races and objective performances. Any race or performance for time or distance that can be judged against objective measurements. Track and field, motor sports, darts, etc.

3) Territory sports. Opponents battle for control of territory, either with or without a scoring token. Football, tennis, wrestling, basketball, curling, hockey, etc. Chess and virtually all board games fall into this category.

4) Judged performances. A performance that is judged according to subjective standards. Gymnastics, figure skating, diving, etc.

Under this definition, is bowling a sport? Yes, but it falls into Category 2 and cannot be appropriately compared to, say, football or baseball.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:16 AM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


I still subscribe to the "objective means of determining who won" test, to distinguish sport from non-sport. That would make bowling a sport, but figure skating a pastime (since it's judged, not objectively won or lost). Darts, billiards, curling: all clearly sports. Same with chess. Diving? I'm afraid not. Ice dancing? Let's not even go there.

Including games of mental skill in the definition of sports is pretty far afield from the common meaning of the word. Sports are generally understood to include an element of physical skill. Darts, bowling, archery - sports. Chess, scrabble - not sports. Video games are a close call, since many games are in fact based on reflexes and hand-eye coordination.

Also, I'd include human-judged events in the definition of sport so long as the standards to be applied by the judges are objective. E.g., if figure skating were judged solely on the basis of degree of difficulty, number of moves performed, number of mistakes, etc., I'd have no problem calling it a sport. But once wholly subjective elements like artistic merit and interpretation are added, it becomes harder to take the activity seriously as a sport.
posted by brain_drain at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Essentially, unless you're playing against someone, meaning, actively preventing someone from objectively scoring, it is not a spot [sic].

By this definition NBA basketball is not a sport.
posted by Mister_A at 11:26 AM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Burn.
posted by muddgirl at 11:30 AM on February 25, 2010


By this definition NBA basketball is not a sport.

That's not at all true (and I think you know it, so are you just trying to be HAMBURGER funny?). Players are allowed to contest possession and movement of the ball at any time, including in-bounds passes from dead ball starts.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:39 AM on February 25, 2010


Mister_A: This lady really abides.

"This lady" is not the preferred nomenclature. "Dudette", please.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:48 AM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can most people name even one male professional bowler?

Bill Murray!

Oh, no, wait, that was a movie. Never mind.
posted by madajb at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2010


Interview with Kelly Kulick on WBUR's Only A Game (a consistently excellent program, btw).
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:51 AM on February 25, 2010


Cool Papa Bell, by your own definition, defense is a relative term. If in foot, horse and auto racing there is the option of blocking and jamming, that is a relative form of defense.

OTOH, in some schemes of run-and-shoot basketball, the game is weighted much more heavily toward simply outscoring the opponent, and defense is played perfunctorily, at best.

one could argue that under the Moneyball philosophy, the same is true, in that the team is stacked for scoring and defense is again an afterthought.

In other words, the Phoenix Suns don't play defense like the Detroit Pistons play defense, and the same comparison between the BillyBall Oakland A's compared to, say, Tony LaRussa's Cardinals.

is it your round or mine?
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:00 PM on February 25, 2010


I thought this issue was put to bed when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs?

The Battle of the Sexes was a fun public spectacle, but Bobby Riggs was like 150 years old when he played Billie Jean King.
posted by electroboy at 12:07 PM on February 25, 2010


Can most people name even one male professional bowler?

I can, but honestly that's only because I went to high school with him.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:07 PM on February 25, 2010


...and I just found out he earned almost $200k in one season.

I need to look into professional bowling.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:13 PM on February 25, 2010


Also, a fun quote attributed to Billie Jean King:
"There's a lot of ugly fellas among the male athletes,but just because they're athletes they get it all the time, don't they? Now, never mind prize money and publicity and all that. When we reach the point where all the women athletes are getting it, too, regardless of their looks, just like the fellas, then we've really arrived."
posted by electroboy at 12:15 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


For the record, bowling is as much a sport as golf is. Both require the same dedication to being able to perform a set sequence of movements repeatably, and with precision. Both have significant external factors that someone needs to take into account that can serious alter that sequence of movements, and need to be taken into account each and every time.

Bowling also requires enough from the body that men and women do have differences in performance - men tend to be better bowlers due to a combination of body size (bigger hands are an advantage), and musculature (more strength allows more revs on the ball).

The biggest issue with bowling though, especially professional bowling, is how easy it is to fix. The standard oil patterns instituted in the recent past is a big improvement over the old days, when the PBA could effectively decide beforehand who they wanted to win a tournament, and set down oil to give that person a big advantage. I know a former pro (back from around 79-80), and he has a lot of stories about how things used to be.
posted by evilangela at 12:19 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can name this bowler, although he wasn't a pro.
posted by TedW at 12:26 PM on February 25, 2010


The standard oil patterns instituted in the recent past is a big improvement over the old days, when the PBA could effectively decide beforehand who they wanted to win a tournament, and set down oil to give that person a big advantage.

Yeah, my friend didn't go pro until 2007 or thereabouts, but even back in high school the amount of time he could take just talking about oil patterns in the lane was amazing. Bowling is not only about fine-tuned repeated movements, but about continually adjusting those fine-tuned movements based on physical details of the environment so subtle that you or I wouldn't even know they were an issue. I actually went bowling with my friend once, just for fun, and the way he talked about being able to feel exactly where the oil had been worn down in the lane through normal usage of other visitors to that particular bowling alley that day forever disavowed me of any notions that bowling isn't a sport.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2010


Bowlers in this championship bowled 15 games a day for 6 days. 15 games! If you think bowling is easy, and a sport for nicotine addicted lushes (ahem), then try bowling just 5 games in a row. If you can walk the next day, you're doing it wrong. It requires far more strength and endurance than golf - but somehow Tiger Woods gets all the attention. It's classicism at its finest - you don't see CEOs signing million dollar deals after an evening of bowling - hence bowling isn't a real sport, it's just something to do after your shift at the shop. Right.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:33 PM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can most people name even one male professional bowler?

My cousin's husband is a pro bowler. I think his name is Jeff.
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:39 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I can't see the point of gender segregation in some other competitions. Golf? Curling? Pool/billiards? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?"

Both Golf and Curling have aspects requiring strength thereby giving natural advantage to men. This is especially obvious in golf where women play from different tees then men in a game that lends itself to handicapping like a fish to water.

"Yeah, I'm no expert and I haven't been in a bowling alley in probably 30 years, but it looks like you can be an old, fat, one-legged smoker on a respirator and still be a pretty good league bowler. Maybe not the world champion, but good enough to fuck with the Jesus. Bowling looks a lot more like darts -- stand up, waddle over, pick up a ball, aim, fire, waddle back, sit down, swig, puff (though I suppose they no longer allow smoking in bowling alleys), wait for your turn -- than like an actual (athletic) sport such as basketball (run down, jump, shoot, run back, jump, block, run down, run back, runrunrunrunrun...). If you took almost everything out of basketball and reduced it to taking turns at foul shots, you'd have something like bowling (or darts)."

Isn't this essentially the case in for 95% of the time spent play baseball as well? Can a closer really claim to be playing a sport when all he does is wait around for 3 hours and then saunter out onto the field in the closing moments of the game and throw a ball a few times? AL pitchers don't even bat.

"By this definition NBA basketball is not a sport."

And several flavours of motor racing are.
posted by Mitheral at 12:41 PM on February 25, 2010


Yeah, my friend didn't go pro until 2007 or thereabouts, but even back in high school the amount of time he could take just talking about oil patterns in the lane was amazing.

Yep, I've posted comments on here before going on about the complexities of oil patterns on the lane, weight blocks and surfaces for bowling balls, etc. Writing a big FPP on bowling here to educate people is on my list of things to do, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I've been bowling my entire life, and still regularly find out new information that I wasn't aware of.

If you think bowling is easy, and a sport for nicotine addicted lushes (ahem), then try bowling just 5 games in a row.

I've bowled my entire life, and done my share of tournaments involving 15+ games in a weekend, plus practice. When Sunday night comes around after all that, I'm wiped. I can't imagine throwing that many in a day, every day, for that long. I can guarantee that anyone here who hasn't done it has no idea how much endurance it takes. To top it off, it's at the end of that when you need to be at the top of your focus and concentration. Because you can't bowl well when you're tired.

For those interested in more about the PBA and pro bowling, check out the movie A League of Ordinary Gentlemen.
posted by evilangela at 12:44 PM on February 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


If in foot, horse and auto racing there is the option of blocking and jamming, that is a relative form of defense.

Everyone brings that up, and here's my answer: This activity is not required. Certainly it happens, in virtually every race or event of this nature, but it is not required. It's not technically an integral part of the experience, rather something that emerges because humans are humans, after all, that compete for the shortest path on a course.

If I were running a footrace, I could just run faster than you. If I were in a horse race, I could in theory just give you the rail, run on the outside, and still win the race. It's less likely, sure. But it's possible.

Or, consider a wreck in an auto race, or someone getting tripped in a footrace. A sport that allows defense usually allows for a concept of fairness in defense. You could in theory win an auto race because your opponent gets sent into the wall by a third, otherwise uncompetitive driver.

In the end, it's just guys sitting around bullshitting about opinions. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:44 PM on February 25, 2010


I thought this issue was put to bed when Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs?

You mean when a 55 year old guy was beat by a great 29 year old woman, a little bit after that 55 year old guy had absolutely demolished the #1 ranked female tennis player in the world? Don't get me wrong: Riggs is a huge jerk who deserved to be humiliated in front of a national audience but the match didn't really say anything at all about professional sports except that Bobby Riggs was an ass.

I've been wondering about that as I've been watching the Olympics [...] Golf? Curling? Pool/billiards?

The top male golfers would generally embarrass the top female golfers. The top male curlers would probably smash the top female curlers (although mixed teams are an interesting idea which is going to be tried in world competitions soon). The very, very best female billiards players can barely make it into the male rankings, but not challenge the top players.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on February 25, 2010


Whoops! "I've been wondering about that as I've been watching the Olympics [...] Golf? Curling? Pool/billiards?" should have been italicized as a quote.
posted by Justinian at 1:49 PM on February 25, 2010


pracowity: I'm afraid, by my chosen arbitrary line, that you are correct, and drinking games are technically sports. I never said I was happy with all of the results of the principle, just that it's the one I find most satisfying, overall.

I also have to probably list as a corollary two things:

a) "Games" are a subset of sports, in my way of thinking. So chess and so forth would be included, under the "games" category.

b) None of this indicates that what I'm calling non-sports do not require remarkable skills. If you wanted to broaden up a level, I'd say that containing "sports" (and thus also "games") would be a larger category of "competitions," which would include non-objective competition like figure skating and competitive ballroom dance.
posted by rusty at 2:05 PM on February 25, 2010


Your favorite pastime sucks.
posted by Mister_A at 2:12 PM on February 25, 2010


The standard oil patterns instituted in the recent past is a big improvement over the old days...

Man, I love the arcana of hobbies.
posted by electroboy at 2:18 PM on February 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The top male curlers would probably smash the top female curlers

I know very little about curling. Why would this be so? It's not intuitive. The equipment is the same (right?), and it seems as if there is a max amount of energy that can be effectively applied to the rock, or else risk a loss of control. Moreover, it seems that both male and female teams both regularly reach this max, thereby making them equal on the ice.

I could, however, be flat wrong about this. Please someone ed-juh-ma-cate me.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:50 PM on February 25, 2010


Simple answer: The sweepers. Compare the top male teams to the bottom male teams, and you'll see that, say, Great Britain and Canada (who pay their curlers) are HUGE. Absolutely massive guys. And this comes through on the sweeping.

Bigger guys can impart more energy to the ice, giving them a wider dynamic range of control. If those big guys on the Canada team don't want that stone to curl, by gum it won't curl.
posted by muddgirl at 2:59 PM on February 25, 2010


Cool Papa Bell: Moreover, it seems that both male and female teams both regularly reach this max,

I don't believe this is true; The male curlers can throw the rock harder while still maintaining accuracy. This is, true, a situational advantage. But a real one. If you watch a lot of the curling you will definitely notice a difference in the top-end range of velocity-with-control. But that's only half the story. The male sweepers have a lot more upper body strength and can sweep harder and faster than the female sweepers, which lets them tweak the rock's paths and velocities better.
posted by Justinian at 3:01 PM on February 25, 2010


(Disclaimer: All I know from curling I've learned from watching it these past two weeks and the expert commentator, Don Duguid)
posted by muddgirl at 3:01 PM on February 25, 2010


Christ, what an asshole: It's (not surprisingly) everywhere. Look at the Oscars -- Best Actress? I'd love to one day watch a hermaphrodite blow us away on screen and watch the Academy scramble to label his/her performance.
Dude, I've actually seen tha- oh, you said away...
posted by hincandenza at 3:57 PM on February 25, 2010


Oh wow there's a lot of FAIL in this thread. Anyone who thinks that bowling at a high level is easy, or that it's not a sport, or that it's only played by fat drunken old men, just simply doesn't understand bowling. Bowling is like any other sport - you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to play at a casual "cosmic bowling" level, you can have a damn good time doing it, but serious league bowlers are athletes, make no mistake about it.

When I played regularly (about 20-30 games a week, including 2 different leagues, practice and tournaments), I got a hell of a workout. My average went up by 15 pins when I stopped drinking while I bowled, and at one point my right (dominant) forearm was a good 2 inches bigger around than my left, from the additional workout. (spare me the wanking jokes, I've heard 'em)

The most important conditioning item I did to improve my game? Yoga. It helped my balance and posture as I approached the line. Balance and core strength is critical to bowling. Try holding your balance while sliding on one foot to within an inch and a half of a target you can't see, all the while keeping your back erect and keeping a swinging 16 pound pendulum under control. Now do it 40 more times in a night and tell me how your legs (mostly your quad opposite your dominant hand, but also both calves) and obliques (both) feel afterward.

Also, until you get to the very highest levels of the sport, bowling really is more about finesse and accuracy than power, which is why the "gap" between male and female bowlers isn't as great as in some other sports. I wasn't a power bowler (a cranker, in the parlance of the sport) by any stretch, and I maintained an average in the 185-195 range.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:28 PM on February 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


"This is the equivalent of "Man Gives Birth!""

I disagree. Not to take away from her accomplishment at all, but it's bowling.


Well, not to take away from his accomplishment at all but men don't have functioning ovaries.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:09 PM on February 25, 2010


Everyone knows duckpins is the pinnacle of bowling perfection, because no one has bowled a perfect duckpin game, ever.
posted by electroboy at 9:17 PM on February 25, 2010


Everyone knows duckpins is the pinnacle of bowling perfection, because no one has bowled a perfect duckpin game, ever.

Same thing goes for candlepin bowling - after more than a century, record single game score recognized by the MBA is 245 for the men and 196 for the women. I grew up on candlepin bowling.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:40 PM on February 25, 2010


Also, there have been perfect games in rubberband duckpin - as there is no rubberband candlepin, I humbly submit that candlepin dominates duckpin.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:42 PM on February 25, 2010


Since I know I'm not the only one: Duckpin Bowling and Candlepin Bowling
posted by LordSludge at 6:44 AM on February 26, 2010


Pfft. Rubberband is like playing with bumpers.
posted by electroboy at 8:14 AM on February 26, 2010


The top male curlers would probably smash the top female curlers

The question has been asked before. Top-level men sweep better (faster, at least) than women and arguably have better shot control because they can handle the higher weight with a bit more delicacy. See the shot percentages, essentially what percentage of shots did what the curler wanted, here for the 2006 Olympics. Note that the top men averaged in the low 80% range while the top women were in the high 70%s. So there's about a 5% difference in accuracy between elite men and women. That is the difference between winning gold and finishing in the bottom four or five teams in the round-robin in the Men's bonspeil.

Mixed curling though is awesome, and a very common form of the sport, at least in Canada. I don't know why it isn't in the Olympics.
posted by bonehead at 1:47 PM on February 26, 2010


Are there any sports that don't have subjective elements? I mean I'm sure there are outlier football games where the refs don't have to make any calls, but isn't that the exception to the rule? Even fencing seems pretty objective, but the judge can overrule the computer on scoring.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:45 AM on March 3, 2010


High jump? Either the bar dropped when you went over or it didn't.
posted by Mitheral at 4:21 AM on March 3, 2010


Wouldn't any footrace qualify?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:07 AM on March 3, 2010


There are judges at the start of most racing events to (subjectively) judge what motion is allowed before the gun goes off. This applies to sprint, swimming, canoeing, cycling, etc...
posted by bonehead at 10:24 AM on March 3, 2010


Marathoning?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2010


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