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Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Updated: August 15, 5:32 PM ET
Game on! Bowling should be an Olympic sport

By Paul Lukas
Page 2

Editor's note: Throughout the Olympics, Page 2 writers will argue the merits of including various sports in the Games.

To qualify as an Olympic sport, an activity must be "widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents, and by women in at least 40 countries and on three continents," according to Olympics officials. In other words, participation matters. So you'd think the sport with the second-highest rate of participation in the world would be a shoo-in for Olympic medal recognition, right?

Nope. Bowling, which is practiced by over 100 million people in over 100 countries, has never gained official Olympic sanction (it was an exhibition sport in Seoul in 1988, but that's the closest it's come). That needs to change -- just consider all the potential pluses:

• No doping scandals.

• No judging scandals.

• Unlike, say, javelin throwing or working on the parallel bars, bowling can be enjoyed by everyone -- men and women, young and old.

• Bowling shoes and shirts look totally cool.

• Imagine the sponsorship possibilities for the beer frame.

• Del Ballard Jr. assured of sentimental-favorite status after endless replayings of the time he lost a tournament by throwing a gutter ball.

• Renewed currency for long-ignored terms like "baby split," "Brooklyn side," "turkey," "grandma's teeth," "mule ears," "Dutch 200," etc.

And so on. And regular tenpin bowling is just the beginning -- once the Olympics are bitten by the bowling bug, it'll only be a matter of time before candlepin bowling, duckpin bowling, mini bowling, feather bowling, and Canadian five-pin bowling earn medal status as well. Because if there's one idea that can unite nations and forge worldwide camaraderie, it's this: At the end of a hard day, there's nothing like hurling a big, heavy ball at a bunch of innocent little pins to work out your frustrations.