Bowling’s Olympics hopes were dealt another tough blow Thursday when the Paris organizing committee elected not to put the sport forward for inclusion in the 2024 Games.
However, if you’ve followed all the signs presented by the International Olympic Committee, this move should come as little surprise.
The IOC has made it clear the Olympics needs to appeal to younger people, especially as it relates to television audiences. Bowling simply doesn’t yet deliver the younger demographic the Olympics and advertisers crave.
The PBA Tournament of Champions broadcast on FOX drew an overall audience of 1,131,000 viewers, according to ShowBuzzDaily.com. Of those who watched, only about 21 percent were in the 18-49 age bracket.
That number pales in comparison to some other sports like, for example, the NBA, which often has closer to 50 percent of its audience in the coveted 18-49 age range.
If you need further proof the Olympics is looking for an infusion of young viewers, simply look at the sports that were put forward by Paris 2024 as demonstration sports.
Breakdancing (aka “breaking”), surfing, sport climbing and skateboarding were all selected. The IOC will have the ultimate decision whether to approve those recommendations by the end of the year.
So, after being snubbed by Tokyo for 2020 and Paris for 2024, is all hope lost for the sport of bowling? Absolutely not.
The sport has made some big strides recently, including the PBA’s new television deal with FOX that provides more prominent coverage for the sport.
If the PBA can start to deliver a consistent, younger audience that advertisers crave, it will be incredibly positive for the sport’s future.
One way to do that is to build up the sport’s young stars and personalities and introduce them to new, younger audiences to get them engaged in the sport.
The coverage by TMZ and Barstool Sports recently of Kyle Troup and his unique style is a perfect example of this. We just need more of it more often.
In the meantime, what can you, the everyday bowler do to help the cause? Engage your friends, neighbors and fellow bowlers to become more active on social media, sharing stories on the sport and watching the televised events.
The larger, and younger, the audience bowling can deliver, the more likely the Olympics will one day be interested.
And when they come calling, we’ll be ready.
Lucas Wiseman is the senior editor of FloBowling. He has covered bowling around the world for more than two decades. Follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Wiseman.