Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Let men bowl!

I think the common perception of bowlers is of men of various shapes and sizes drinking beer in matching shirts engaging in some kind of male bonding away from women.
Basically men have access to bowling. Of course there are plenty of women's bowling leagues and mixed gender leagues as well.
But the discourse changes when we talk about intercollegiate bowling. Bowling is an officially recognized NCAA sport for women. But not for men. And what happens when a sport is being supported for women and not for men is that Title IX frequently gets cited as a quota system and an instrument of reverse discrimination that plagues our politically correct society.
Utter nonsense, of course. But those who are worried that male student-athletes are being denied their right to bowl can look at Viterbo University in Wisconsin, which has just added varsity bowling for both women and men.
The decision was motivated by the growth in girls' high school bowling in the state. No specific reason for why they added a men's team but the lack of varsity men's programs in the state mean that the team will largely be competing against club teams. I am not sure what it means to have a varsity sport for men that the NCAA does not recognize. But the male bowlers will benefit presumably from their status in ways their club sport peers will not.