I began searching online for media reactions to Kulick's achievement and saw a demoralizingly small number of mostly brief and tepid articles about it apparently penned by writers obligatorily going through the motions of reporting a story they cared nothing about. The real kicker was what someone scornfully wrote in the comments section of one of these lackadaisical articles. A close paraphrase of his comment is: "Kelly, how do you feel winning an insignificant championship in a sport nobody cares anything about?" My heart sank when I read this. Then I got angry. Then I realized that this person probably spoke for the majority of this football (both kinds) obsessed country and beyond and probably always would and that there was absolutely nothing I or Kelly Kulick could do about it.
But then I read this morning that Terrell Owens had tweeted about Kulick's victory. I never cared much for TO and his prima donnish ways, but his stock rose about a thousand points in my eyes after this. And pba.com reports that TO's tweet was followed by a groundswell of stories and Kulick interviews in the mega-media of print, television, and radio turning Kulick's victory into "the hottest story in the wide world of sports," overwhelming Kulick's e-mail account, flooding her Facebook page, and bringing a record number of hits to the PBA website.
I don't know what this all means for the sport of bowling. Is it just a proverbial flash in the pan, or is it the rapid swelling of a bowling tsunami that will engulf the nation and world? I hope it's the latter. My guess is that it will be something in between an ephemeral flash and a raging tsunami. Stay tuned as we follow this together.
Below are quotes from bowling legends along with excerpts extracted from the print media, all courtesy of pba.com, about Kelly Kulick's achievement. And below that are two interviews she did, first with Harry Smith of CBS' "The Early Show," and then an outstanding interview with Jason Page of ESPN Radio's "The Back Page," and, finally, here is an interview she did with Jay Crawford of ESPN TV. I continue to be impressed by what a great spokesperson she is for bowling.
Randy Pedersen, 13-time PBA Tour champion and ESPN color analyst: “What I witnessed on Sunday, given the circumstances, could possibly be the best performance I have ever witnessed in professional bowling, Nobody gave Kelly a chance, yet she performed magnificently. Under the most extreme pressure our sport can provide she managed her game flawlessly. People need to understand just how spectacular this accomplishment is.”
Nelson Burton Jr., PBA Hall of Famer and long-time ABC-TV color analyst: “She truly bowled with as much determination and heart as I have ever seen.”
Don and Paula Carter, bowling hall of famers: “What a great show Sunday! We enjoyed every aspect of the telecast.”
Associated Press: “Kelly Kulick left all the guys in the gutter.”
Matt Fiorito, Detroit Free-Press: “Annika Sorenstam couldn't do it, nor could Michelle Wie, although they got tons of publicity in their failed attempts. But on Sunday, Kelly Kulick proved to the world that in precision sports at least, women can compete with men.”
Jeff Wolf, Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Kelly Kulick used a 15-pound bowling ball to smash a 52-year barrier when she became the first woman to win a PBA Tour tournament.”
Andy Hutchings, The Sporting Blog, sportingnews.com: “I'm too young to remember it ever being truly popular, but I think it's fair to say bowling has become a bit of a niche sport of late…Today, Kelly Kulick might have changed that.”
Entertainment&showbiz.com: “It can’t get bigger than this for 32-year old Kelly Kulick. The American Professional bowler becomes the first women to win the prestigious PBA title last Sunday in Las Vegas….Kelly Kulick is also known to have been a part of Spider-Man’s comic book. She was featured as friend and former girlfriend of Flash Thompson, starting with Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man issue no.20. She was included into the comics after participating in a bowling pro-am event with the daughter of one of the Spider-Man writers.”
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Kelly Kulick left all the guys in the gutter yesterday when she became the first woman to win a PBA Tour title, beating Chris Barnes in the final of the 45th Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas.”
Dave Poe, Parkersburg News and Sentinel: “The best sports story on Sunday? It wasn't Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts coming back from an 11-point deficit to defeat the upstart New York Jets and advance to the Super Bowl. Nor was it the New Orleans Saints' dramatic overtime victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Rather, Sunday belonged to Kelly Kulick. Who in the heck, many of you are wondering, is Kelly Kulick? She's a professional bowler. She's arguably the best female bowler in the world. On Sunday, she was the best bowler in the world - period.”
Sportsexaminer.com: “You might say that the announcers were breathless by comparing Kulick to Billie Jean King as a pioneer in women's professional sports. But you can't deny she accomplished something no other woman has. Golfers Michelle Wie and Annika Sorenstam failed to reach those heights when they competed on the men's golf tour.”
Mason Lerner, Sports Chat, The Faster Times: “Kelly Kulick made history and added a new twist on throwing like a girl when she became the first woman to ever win a PBA major at the Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas.”
All Headline News: “Kelly Kulick pounded 10 strikes at the final of the 45th Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions Sunday at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas, becoming the first woman to capture a title in a male-dominated sport.”
Francine King, Jacksonville Times-Union: “Terrell Owens tweeted about it. Facebook pages filled with it. Bowling communities are buzzing about it. On Sunday, Kelly Kulick achieved what no woman had accomplished before her: a victory on the Professional Bowlers Association Tour — and in one of its most prestigious tournaments.”
Stephen Haynes, Newsday.com: “The call Joanne Byrne received from her husband on Sunday informing her that Kelly Kulick had become the first woman to win a PBA Tour title didn't elicit much surprise. No, for the Levittown Division girls bowling coach, there was just pride and a little I-told-you-so.”
Fort Worth Star Telegram: “Lynda Barnes, a pro bowler whose husband, Chris Barnes, suffered the 265-195 loss to Kulick, said she had no hard feelings. ‘He got run over — it’s a simple as that,’ Barnes said as she hugged friends at the International Research and Testing Center (Monday during the opening ceremonies for the International Bowling Campus in Arlington, Texas). "But you can’t help but be happy for Kelly."