Friday, December 19, 2008

Over a bowl of chili at lunch, I scanned the Des Moines Register. An article about a girls' high school bowling championship caught my eye. Bowling is now a sanctioned sport for women in 80 Iowa high schools, the 10th such sport for women. When I started teaching in Iowa in l975, track was the only women’s sport and then only because Title IX forced high schools to offer girls athletic opportunities.

That same year, Tom answered a knock at our apartment door one night and there stood several high school boys holding a huge trophy. Schools didn’t sanction bowling at that time so these kids asked Tom, who was Booster Club president, to make a personal donation so they could attend the state bowling league championship. He was their sole sponsor, so their arrival to present him with the state bowling trophy was a surprise.

Bowling is good exercise, it’s fun and helps people understand teamwork and the ups and downs of competition, which is a part of our everyday lives as adults.

In the article, Lincoln High School girls spoke about the fun of competing in the state championship and their pride in the recognition they’ve received. These women are learning a life-time sport, something they can do with a date, a spouse or life-partner; something they can do with their children someday, or a great way to enjoy a night out with friends.

The assistant director of the Girls Athletic Union says that this sport reaches 40% of students who are not involved in their schools in any other way. That’s the best part. Team sports are one more alternative to premature sexual activity, one more esteem-building activity. We’ve come a long way.