The Once (and Future?) Sport of Kings: Bowling and the Olympics
What about bowling at the Summer Games?
Take home the Gold at Kings!
With the Summer Games now underway, people the world over are being treated to championship matches in the field of competitive shooting, 100 meter backstroke, field hockey, tae kwon do and more. But everyone watching the games here at Kings - possibly over our signature Baked Wings or a Big Bowl cocktail - has the same question their lips: What about bowling?
Bowling and the Olympic Games have a long and storied history (kind of like your Aunt Lisa and that biker gang she used to hang with in the '70s...), stretching back decades. While not an officially included game at this year's games in Rio, tenpin bowling was mounted as a demonstration program during the 1988 Summer Games at the Seoul's Royal Bowling Center. Twenty countries competed in the Men's and Women's tournament, sending in nonprofessionals to showcase the athletic nature of the game, save for Carol Gianotti of Australia, a former multiple LPBA Champion. At the event in the Men's division, South Korea took the Gold, Singapore won Silver and Finland won Bronze. In the Women's division, the Philippine Islands won the Gold medal, Japan won Silver medal, and Finland won Women's Bronze.
A 'wonderful social experience' with an 'image problem'
This gave many within the pro bowling community hope for its inclusion in future Games... hope that has yet to pay off in the post-1988 world. Many attributed this exclusion to the confusing way that bowling is scored ('Golden Turkeys' and 'Hambones' notwithstanding), the large investment required to construct regulation-style lanes in the host country and issues with bowling's fun-time image.
"We have had an image problem," World Bowling President Kevin Dornberger told USA Today. "People still see it as a recreation where you have a few beers and it is a wonderful social experience. But there's also an elite competitive side, and being in the Olympics would open up incredible opportunities in terms of visibility and appeal."
Fit for champions!Fit for champions!
2020 and beyond
For our part, we don't see anything wrong with the unique combination of fun, liberal libations and bowling (we'd be in the wrong industry if we did!), but we concede that what makes bowling a more memorable social experience might not exactly translate to Olympic-level kayaking. Still, experts in the bowling lobby (yes, that's a thing) have made it a campaign to see bowling included in future games.
These efforts were momentarily rewarded when in June 2015, it was announced that bowling had been included in eight finalist sports to become a new sport for the 2020 Summer Olympics. Along with baseball (and softball), karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing and kung fu, bowling seemed on a collision course for Olympic greatness. However, September 2015 saw these dreams dashed as it was announced that bowling, along with kung fu and squash, was once again omitted.
Will the rolling arts find itself up for consideration in future Summer Games? Who can say. In the meantime, we don't need no stinkin' IOC to tell us how to have fun! Book an evening at your local Kings to have your own personal Olympics, complete with amazing food, spectacular entertainment and our trademark service. U-S-A! U-S-A!