Web Special / November 2005

Too much hype

Is there anyone out there besides me that's getting a bit tired of all the gender hype? You can't pick up a paper or magazine without seeing top billing to a woman competing or wanting to compete against men. Remember Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs?

Michelle Wie will ink a huge contract with Nike and Sony and hopes one day to compete in the Masters at Augusta. So what? This month she will have competed in six events against men, and, although she has tried she has failed to make the cut, coming close by one shot at the 2004 Sony Open and by two shots this year at the John Deere Classic. The hype on this teenager is based completely on speculation.

Danica Patrick made the cover of Sports Illustrated and received more press than the actual winner of the Indianapolis 500. Why? Because she was the first woman to lead that race in its history. Okay, quickly, how many women have driven that race in its history? Three: Janet Guthrie (1977-79), Lyn St. James (1992-97, 2000), and Sarah Fisher (2000-03). Patrick led for one lap and finished fourth at the Indy 500, a race won by Dan Wheldon who didn't get a Sports Illustrated cover.

Anna Kournikova, another Sports Illustrated cover girl, is the most publicized tennis player never to win. Google her name and you'll find pages upon pages of her photo sessions, but little regarding her sport.

So, what's this have to do with bowling? I think there is far too much hype over Liz Johnson competing against the men.

I have a great respect for Johnson as I do for many of the women who competed on the PWBA. I think many of them will be competitive, and Johnson has proven they can win at the regional level. At the time of this writing, Johnson is fifth on the East Region points list, and Carolyn Dorin-Ballard is 16th on the Southwest Region points list and she has bowled less than half of the events. So, yes, they are competitive.

I understand the marketing potential of Wie and Patrick because they are in two of the most popular sports in America, they have great sponsors, and the best agent's money can buy. I doubt you will see that in bowling.

I guess I am just worn out with all the hype. Let's see if Wie wins instead of just entering. Let's see if Patrick wins instead of leading for one lap and finishing fourth. We know Kournikova's record.

Some say any publicity is better than no publicity, and maybe that's true. But, I would much rather see all those women respected for their ability rather than their gender.

Wouldn't it be nice to read, "Liz Johnson captures the Denny's PBA Tulsa Open," rather than "Johnson becomes the first woman…"

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The 23rd Annual Texas State Mixed Tournament recently concluded, and it was one I really enjoyed. Sweetie and I had the opportunity to bowl with our daughter, Vikki, and her husband, John, and that always makes the event great.

This year, the tournament was held in Arlington and Grand Prairie, with AMF Sparetime Lanes hosting the team event and Forum Bowl had the doubles and singles.

It was great returning to Forum Bowl where I attended all the Quaker State Open events. There is something about Forum Bowl I can't explain, but even without the crystal chandeliers it's still special. What you notice right away is the friendly staff and the handshake from general manager, Randy Hulsey. Next you notice how clean the center is. As you look down the concourse you can't help but remember the bleachers filled with fans watching the greatest bowlers in the world competing in one of the PBA's most prestigious tournaments.

Several days prior to the Quaker State, Jeanie Hulsey would have that concourse filled with tables of food for the media and sponsors reception. The pro-am events brought out the very best in the Texas sports world. Sports stars from the Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Stars, Dallas Mavericks, and wrestling's Von Eric were on hand as well as many children and staff of the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the charity so graciously supported by the Quaker State event.

It was great to be back at the Forum, and the tournament was excellent. We were there for the first weekend and if things are going to go wrong in a tournament it's usually that first weekend, first squad. Fortunately, everything went well. George Bishop, executive director of the Texas State Bowling Council, was on hand to ensure everyone had a good time. The Fort Worth Bowling Association did a great job of handling the lanes, the registration, and getting the shifts rolling.

Sweetie and I have participated in every state mixed tournament since it started in Waco 23 years ago, and this has to be one of the best. We're looking forward to many more.

See you on the lanes.