For those of you saddened by the end of the 2007 U.S. Open (congrats
to Justine Henin, btw), rest assured that you can still watch women’s sports on national
television. And, no, I’m not talking about the Women’s World Cup (most popular sport in the world, blah, blah …) I’m talking about bowling! Set your DVRs now; ESPN will broadcast the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open on five consecutive Sundays at 1:00 p.m. ET. According to the USBC (that’s United States Bowling Congress) e-mail I received, “[t]he best women bowlers in the world will battle for the $25,000 top prize and prestigious U.S. Women’s Open crown.”
Why do I get USBC emails, you ask? Well, I have embraced the sport of the sedentary and am captain of a bowling team in a local GLBT league (emphasis on the G). Every week I head to Leisure Time Bowl in the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan with my pink and black bowling shirt and my hot pink bowling ball (both inscribed
“ACE”; yes, it’s as classy as it sounds). It’s kind of like the Pink Ladies and T-birds (circa Grease 2) redux:
Well, perhaps there’s not quite as much choreography. But the league secretary does make the same really funny joke every week when he instructs us to stop practicing. (“Hold your balls. Or hold somebody else’s balls.” Heh.)
But I digress.
While not as popular as soccer/football or as fun to watch, bowling has a pretty decent history as a woman’s sport in the United States. Women’s professional bowling has been around for 47 years, and the first women’s bowling organization, the Women’s National
Bowling Assocation (later changed to the Women’s International Bowling Congress) has been around since 1916.
Its early popularity was probably helped by the fact that women could dress quite conservatively while they bowled.
The USBC is aggressively marketing the 2007 Women’s Open. Nationally, they’re buying weekly ads in USA Today and banner ads on ESPN.com. And they’re flooding the media in the hometown of each quarterfinalist with personalized press kits to drum up local interest. Frankly, it’s more marketing than I see for the WNBA — and I actively look for WNBA coverage. The actual marketing message is a little odd though.
I’m not sure about going with “ONLY ONE CAN WIN!” as the big tension-builder. Does this somehow distinguish this tournament or sport from any other?
And while I know absolutely nothing about the elite women bowlers, I’m guessing that at least a few of them bowl for our team.
So perhaps it could be fun to see who’s there cheering for them.