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Old Jan 3, 2013, 02:39 PM   #1
bradl
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Meet Scott Norton: PBA Chameleon Champion

While sliding under the radar due to college football games over the holiday weekend in the world of US sports, a rather controversial and in my honest opinion, a very positive event happened in the world of bowling, a sport I have been apart of since I was 3.

The Professional Bowlers Association's World Series of Bowling made its swing through the US in Las Vegas last November, although the stepladder TV finals started to air in mid-December.

With that, Meet Scott Norton. He is a bowler on the PBA tour, the son of a Hall of Fame bowler, and a partner in a very successful law firm. Scott happens to be openly gay, and has just become the first openly gay male to win an individual title in any US sport. Yes, there are others who have come out (Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Greg Lougainis) who have won competitions, but they came out after their success. Norton may be the first one to win while being out.

What has stirred up the exposure and controversy in the bowling world is not only being gay and winning, but he also married his husband in 2011. After winning, his husband came out to him and kissed him on live TV, making ESPN possibly the first sports channel to air professionally shot footage of an openly gay athlete kissing his husband after victory. This caught the media's attention, as you can see:



Both Huffington Post and USAToday are covering this:

Quote:
ESPN set a new precedent over the weekend by airing what may be the first professionally-shot footage of an openly gay athlete kissing his husband after a victory.

Professional bowler Scott Norton hugged and kissed his husband after an upset win over Jason Belmonte at the 2012 PBA Chameleon Championship and few people outside the bowling world seemed to care or notice.

As Outsports describes, when Belmonte failed to roll a final strike in November's match (it finally aired on television this weekend), clinching the match for Norton, the 29-year-old broke down in tears and embraced his spouse, Craig Woodward.

The biggest deal of the whole thing was that it wasn't a big deal at all.

According to bloggers who watched the match on television, ESPN matter-of-factly referred to Norton and Woodward's marriage throughout the match, making note of the uniqueness of Norton being an openly gay athlete but framing it as a backstory to his sporting accomplishments.

ESPN discussed aspects of Norton's story, like how he came out after a win in 2011, but treated it as necessary background and didn't sensationalize the story. When shots of Woodward were aired on television, he was referred to as Norton's husband or spouse.

The couple were married Oct. 22, 2011.

Norton had come out months earlier after being inspired by Phoenix Suns CEO and President Rick Welts. In a statement posted on the PBA website at the time, Norton wrote:
Quote:
It is extremely important for me to come out to show other gay athletes, both current and future, that it is important to come out to show that we are just like everyone else. Being gay doesn't define who I am as a person or as a professional athlete.

I'm also a professional bowler, lawyer, caring, compassionate, strong, and many other things. It's important to show people that being gay has nothing to do with one's ability to do anything as a man, least of all compete at the highest level of sports.
It was the second victory of Norton's professional bowling career. His mother, Virginia, is a Hall of Fame bowler.
As serendipity goes, the PBA this year is reviving an old feature that they haven't had since the 1960s: A draft league owned by celebrities. The team Norton was drafted on was just recently "acquired" by former tennis champion Billie Jean King, part of the LGBT community in her own right. Incidentally, this year would be 40 years since her victory over Bobby Riggs, making her the first woman to beat a man in any sport, even though it was an exhibition match. That feat was only eclipsed 3 years ago by professional bowler Kelly Kulick, who became the first woman to beat a man for a championship in any professional sport.

BL.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 03:47 PM   #2
rdowns
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It will be nice when stories like this don't make the news because it's just normal everyday life.

That said, bowling shoes are gay.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 04:16 PM   #3
bradl
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Originally Posted by rdowns View Post
It will be nice when stories like this don't make the news because it's just normal everyday life.

That said, bowling shoes are gay.
The flaming shoes are gay. The clown shoes came about in everyone's drug-induced haze inside Studio 54.

Bowling shoes nowadays are better, sleeker, and not as clod-hopping happy shoes rejected from an old episode of Circus with the Stars.

Bowling Rental clown shoes:


Serious/Real bowler's shoes:



http://www.dexterbowling.com/Product...ProductID=5121


Back on topic, I agree, that I wish that this story didn't have much to do with him being gay, as it really didn't. He beat 3 of the best bowlers in the world. The 2nd seeded bowler, Walter Ray Williams Jr., is arguably the best bowler of all time: biggest money winner on the tour, has the most titles of any bowler ever (47; the other bowlers on that telecast had a combined total of 6), and holds the record for the longest number of years in the TV finals (26 years of being in at least 1 televised finals throughout a season). This "rookie" beat him, and both bowled well.

The top seeded bowler was the winner of this same tournament last year, though Norton won it the year before that. But you're talking a lot of backstories here: In this same tournament, Williams is in search for title #50; Fawaz Abdulla became the first Middle Eastern bowler to ever compete in the PBA, (and bowling is HUGE in the mid-east and Asia), and performed with a severe case of gout in his right leg; Jason Belmonte, who was ridiculed for being a bowler that uses two hands, yet proved his naysayers wrong when he finally won; he finally made enough money to be able to bring his entire family from Australia up to watch him perform, and Norton.

Bowling, thank $DIETY, is not just what you see on a friday or saturday night with speakers blasting house music with black lights and 'rock'n'bowl. These guys are good and provide more drama and excitement than you would ever see in a game of football or basketball.

Also there's the fact that ESPN showed this. Not just any under-the-radar sports channel high up in the digital tier, but ESPN. That's what made the exposure grand so far, and I honestly hope it keeps going.

BL.
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 08:41 PM   #4
Ugg
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Bravo to all involved!
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 08:57 PM   #5
citizenzen
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Congratulations to all parties involved. I look forward to more professional athletes coming out and sharing their victories with their same-sex partner.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bradl View Post
The flaming shoes are gay. The clown shoes came about in everyone's drug-induced haze inside Studio 54.

Bowling shoes nowadays are better, sleeker, and not as clod-hopping happy shoes rejected from an old episode of Circus with the Stars.
But about the shoes ...

Aren't they that ugly to help ensure people don't just walk out with them?
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 10:26 PM   #6
yg17
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
Aren't they that ugly to help ensure people don't just walk out with them?
If the sheer ugliness of bowling shoes doesn't discourage you from stealing them, I would hope the fact that hundreds of people's feet have been in them would
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Old Jan 3, 2013, 10:45 PM   #7
Renzatic
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My god. I'm appalled to see the depths the world has sunk to these days.

I mean seriously. Bowling? A sport? It's glorified skeeball, people. I consider it more a hobby than anything. You know, something to do while you get drunk.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 10:49 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by citizenzen View Post
Congratulations to all parties involved. I look forward to more professional athletes coming out and sharing their victories with their same-sex partner.
It will be really huge when we get someone in a sport like football to come out while still playing the game.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 03:05 PM   #9
bradl
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Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
My god. I'm appalled to see the depths the world has sunk to these days.

I mean seriously. Bowling? A sport? It's glorified skeeball, people. I consider it more a hobby than anything. You know, something to do while you get drunk.
Yes, bowling is a sport, and to be honest, you have shown exactly how naive you are in regards to the sport.

Oblivious are the masses to the amount of physics that goes into the creating and drilling of the ball, let alone the shot making. Also oblivious to the masses are the amount of games bowled beforehand to even make it to the finals. Most PBA tournaments are roughly 24 games of qualifying, with another 8 of match play for those that make the top 24. Those get dropped to the top 4, which head to the TV finals.

The exception is the US open, which is *60* games of qualifying, just to get to match play, which gets broken down to the top 4. In all, a bowler could be bowling up to 72 games in a week from start to finish in this tournament.

Wash/rinse/repeat for an entire season.

Insight on the US open: below is the final match between Pete Weber and Mike Fagan. Weber is tied for the most wins of this tournament with 4, with his late father, Dick Weber. Back story here is that he would be the outright record holder of the most wins from this single tournament. For Mike Fagan, this would be his first in this tournament, and the 2nd singles win of his young career.

Watch the drama unfold below, including the heckling by a spectator and the ending result.

Oh.. did I forget to mention that bowling is the #1 participation sport in the world, as opposed to the other spectator sports, such as.. oh, I dunno, gridiron, rugby, soccer, basketball, baseball, hockey (both ice and field), and cricket? You know, a sport that anyone can get out and do, for recreation, as an amateur, or professional without having to get picked up for a scholarship in high school, or a draft, involving some huge promotional deal? I would rather be involved in a sport that anyone can do and get off my butt and do it than sit in the bleachers/stands watching a limited few people make too much money doing too little, or exactly what I would be doing (sitting on the bench).

Also, let's take baseball or basketball. How many players would you say are in a baseball club? Say, the SF Giants? actually, scratch that; I'll throw you a bone. 40 person roster on a baseball team * 30 teams = 1200 people. Currently, there is over 3 times as many members of the PBA.

Basketball? Okay.. 15 teams * 15 players on the roster = 225. 19 times as many people in the PBA than basketball.

Football? and I'll use gridiron for the example. 32 teams * 55 players per team = 1760 players. the PBA has more than double the members of every NFL team combined.

The PBA has 4300 members, including its first openly gay bowler to ever win, and first woman to ever win on the PBA tour.

Bottom line: you may want to rethink that 'glorified skee ball' and 'not a sport' comment. That is straight out of the 1990s high school jock playbook, which the jock didn't get any play at all to begin with.

BL.

P.S.: As mentioned, here's the US open.

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Old Jan 4, 2013, 04:42 PM   #10
Mac'nCheese
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
My god. I'm appalled to see the depths the world has sunk to these days.

I mean seriously. Bowling? A sport? It's glorified skeeball, people. I consider it more a hobby than anything. You know, something to do while you get drunk.


http://youtu.be/6Srm21isYMs
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