Tag Archives: Billie Jean King

Kelly Kulick – The World’s Best Bowler, Dude

This post is a little outdated.  Kelly Kulick was the first woman ever to win the PBA Tournament – in January 2010.  Didn’t hear about her or the tournament either, eh?

Kulick had been a member of the Professional Women’s Bowling Association, but the organization folded a few years ago.  In an article for Daily Finance, Jonathan Berr states Kulick, 32, “bowled 50 games over three days to win the tour’s premiere event, the Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas.”  See Kulick in action on ESPN here and see her PBA athlete profile here.

Taken from her Facebook Fan page (Yes, go fan her right now. Right now.)

She crushed a former Player of the Year, Chris Barnes, 265-195 in the championship match to win a $40,000 first prize. She also won a two-year exemption on the PBA Tour, virtually assuring her a chance to make a living as a pro bowler, because she does not need to qualify for individual events.  She’s hoping Sunday’s win could lead to a full-time women’s tour, instead of just a series.

“Kelly Kulick’s win today at the PBA Tour’s Tournament of Champions is not only historic, it serves as a motivational and inspirational event for girls and women competing at all levels all around the world,” Women’s Sports Foundation Founder Billie Jean King said in a release.
Berr says, “But so far, these victories haven’t left her swimming in endorsements. These days, when she’s not bowling, she handles secretarial work at her father’s auto-body shop.”

Berr argues that her lack of support isn’t just due to her gender, and the sport’s general unfriendliness to women, but also from bowling’s history in pop culture as being a sport for troglodytes, drug pushers, and generally strange men.  Take such classics as The Flintstones, The Big Lebowski, and Kingpin.  Fred Flintstone, the unofficial mayor of Bedrock, hurls his ball down the lane with all his might. (Actually, Fred lofts his ball, which only novices do, and which damages the lanes, driving bowling-center managers crazy.) Kingpin and The Big Lebowski both treat bowling as camp, not as a serious sport.

So I encourage all of you to fan her on Facebook, go play some bowling, and support your local and professional female athletes.
See Berr’s full article from DailyFinance: http://srph.it/cjap42

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The Battle of the Sexes

Go watch this video!  It won’t let me link it!

In researching this entry, I found this articleBattle of the Sexes – did you know that Wimbledon JUST RECENTLY began awarding women equal prize money to men?

[Wikipedia Entry for more information and sources.]

The Battle of the Sexes was a nationally televised tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, held in Houston, Texas, on September 20, 1973. Riggs was a master showman, sports hustler, and a 1940s tennis star who, for three years, had been the World No. 1. He challenged King to a match after beating another top female tennis player, Margaret Court. The match was incredibly important in gaining public support for gender equality in sports.  The journalist in the video of the match is pretty objective – unlike most male journalists and specially sportscasters at the time.  However, the video reveals the deeply rooted misogyny in American and sports during the 70s.  The journalist also makes a crucial point that the match was more than a battle of the sexes, but was a profitable event for the retired Riggs, the successful King, and for the Women’s Movement procuring positive publicity.

Shortly before the match, King entered the Astrodome in Cleopatra style, carried aloft in a chair held by four bare-chested muscle men dressed in the garb of ancient slaves. Riggs followed in a rickshaw drawn by a bevy of scantily-clad models. Riggs presented King with a giant lollypop and she gave him a piglet named Larimore Hustle.

Even from the net, the result was the same: King defeated him, 6–4, 6–3, 6–3.

A few critics were less than impressed by King’s victory. King was 26 years younger, and some experts claimed that it was more an age versus youth game. According to tennis player Jack Kramer, “I don’t think Billie Jean played all that well. She hit a lot of short balls which Bobby could have taken advantage of had he been in shape. I would never take anything away from Billie Jean — because she was smart enough to prepare herself properly — but it might have been different if Riggs hadn’t kept running around. It was more than one woman who took care of Bobby Riggs in Houston.”

Before the match, however, King had forced the American television network ABC to drop Kramer as a commentator.  King said, “He doesn’t believe in women’s tennis. Why should he be part of this match? He doesn’t believe in half of the match. I’m not playing. Either he goes – or I go.” After the match, Pancho Segura declared that Riggs was only the third best senior player, behind himself and Gardnar Mulloy, and challenged King to another match. King refused.

On another note, King has been a powerful icon for the LGBT rights movement, as she was one of the first women to admit her bisexuality in sports, following Martina Navratilova, who King said was “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived.”

Article on HBO Tennis Documentary

This 60 Minutes on Bobby Riggs gives you more background on Riggs and The Battle of the Sexes.  He’s a winner.

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