Knock 'em down

Pro bowler Kelly Kulick becomes the first woman to earn herself a seasonlong exemption for the PBA Tour.

Published June 15, 2006 7:49PM (EDT)

None of us could quite bring ourselves to comment on the New York Times' article today about getting liposuction on knee fat. I'm more than happy, though, to write about a woman who's probably too busy knocking down pins on her way to the big leagues of bowling to worry about "piano legs" or a "buffalo hump." Pro bowler Kelly Kulick qualified for the Professional Bowlers Association Tour last week, finishing in sixth place in the tour trials. She becomes the first woman to earn a seasonlong exemption, which means she'll definitely be able to compete full time in the tour in the fall.

The NYT profile of Kulick did its part to persuade me to turn on the PBA Tour (for the first time in my life) this fall to watch her compete in the male-dominated league. Kulick tried twice before to land the tournament and it's a good thing she landed it when she did; otherwise, she was planning to trade in professional bowling to pursue a master's in health. Until she starts competing this fall, Kulick will continue working part time at her father's auto body shop, where she became accustomed to being the token female. "I do pretty well against the men, maybe because working at the shop has made me tough," she said. (Side note: I admire any woman who sees no contradiction in changing a car's oil while sporting pearl earrings.) The testosterone-filled environment seems to have instilled in her a playful sense of gendered competition: Her mother hyped her for the qualifying tournament by asking, "What's better, testosterone or estrogen?" Kulick would answer, "Estrogen!"

She isn't the first woman to land a spot on the tour, but her presence is controversial nonetheless. Commissioner and chief executive of the PBA Fred Schreyer told the Times that some are disturbed at the idea of a woman taking a man's spot on the tour and causing him to lose his career. (To that I say: Too bad!) But, if anything, it seems her presence will raise the stakes. Tommy Jones, an eight-time winner of the tour, told the Times: "I think every guy is scared to bowl a woman, because you don't want to be the first to lose to one."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

MORE FROM Tracy Clark-Flory

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Broadsheet Love And Sex