I'm not sold on Vanderbilt as a bowling school, and there is some poor logic in arguments against me

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Brace yourself. I know this will get a big reaction.

Sometimes I use imperfect logic. I can be stubborn in an argument, dug in. Sometimes it’s unreasonable. 


Depending on the degree of importance on the matter I am not above shifting my thinking based on opinions or evidence presented to me.

Sometimes I may stick to my guns more because it winds up being funny. But overall, my stances and arguments and comebacks are based in thought. I can explain myself.

Saturday night I was reminded that Vanderbilt has a women’s bowling team when it won the NCAA championship, a great feat in any sport. But my initial reaction was the same as it would be for a lot of people, and I tweeted it in the shape of a poll.

Part jab, sure. Part fun. Part serious.

Well, I might as well have insulted the most sacred thing in the world.

I’m allowed not to think much of bowling as an NCAA sport. I understand its Title IX implications, and they could be addressed by softball (in which 13 SEC schools participate) or volleyball (also 13) or gymnastics (eight).

Rather Vanderbilt chose bowling. It makes the school distinct, I suppose. It offers something no other SEC does. If you search “SEC bowling” on the web, you get this Michigan High School page. If you search “Southeastern Conference Bowling” you get this page for the Southeast conference of Central Florida, where the Heroes were slated to take on the Cobras on Aug. 20. No update on how it went, sorry.

Here is a list of NCAA bowling programs.  Are these the schools you’d go to Vanderbilt to compete against? In anything? Mount Aloysius? Wis.-Whitewater? Daemen? The program's second NCAA title came via victory of McKendree.

Oh, I can’t wait for the replies telling me how Daemen is actually a good school, really highly respected, I should learn more about it.

Sell a fine institution in a storied conference, but oh, over there in a bizarre little corner, a school that’s really big-time competes with an unrecognizable group in a game best known for Thursday night beers leagues.

Here’s the most popular comeback: What about my alma mater, Columbia, where fencing is big? Well. I am no proponent of fencing. While covering it is a rite of passage at the first paper I worked for, The Columbia Daily Spectator – the eighth-largest English-speaking daily in New York when I was there – I managed to avoid it.

I never saw a match, like most Vandy kids won’t ever see competitive bowling.

Fencing, however, has been an Olympic sport since 1896, the very beginning of the modern Olympics. Columbia’s fencing team began two years later. Yes, I do think there is a difference between a kid going to college to pursue a degree and a potential path to the Olympics (13 since 1984 alone) than to pursue a potential path to a tougher Tuesday night bowling flight.

Chew Columbia up for fencing and I don’t give a damn. I’m not offended. And I am not here to mock bowling. It’s hard. Hell, Rhett Bryan wrote a hit single about my personal bowling plight:

Look: I LIKE VANDERBILT. I've been in the middle of SEC country for over 20 years now, and it's the one school in the conference I can relate to on any personal level based on my own private college experience, at a place where academics were top priority. And I believe Vandy should compete for all it can in its conference and then against similar schools -- Stanford, Northwestern, Duke and the like.

It's amazing to me, however, how many people are so incredibly defensive about the university. And it pushes me away. It screams you don't want an "outsider" on board with the Commodores if he might not be blindly on board and sign off on everything. And you should take all of us you can get.

James Franklin did good things for your school, then sprinted out of dodge as fast as he could.

He had great success, but was also, almost indisputably, an incredibly controlling blowhard who couldn't handle being challenged, which is part of what big-time coaches handle with regularity. That attitude -- how dare you question -- seemed to really rub off on many attached to the school.

Decide you dislike him, and it's an affront to all things black and gold despite the fact he's been gone for over four years. When was he canonized? I mean love him if you like, defend him.

But to summarily dismiss anyone who didn't or doesn't like him is intellectually weak, just like the majority of the arguments against a simple question for Vandy people that started this conversation: Would you rather have a national title in bowling or not have bowling?

This has been a long path to get to my primary point out of these: There is an alarming inability out there for people to argue intelligently, and when it comes from people connected in some way to the smartest school in the state it bewilders me.

Shred me. But dissect the question well (some have) or tell me why what I think doesn't matter (some have). 

Look at how much is injected into my poll question that wasn’t there as people came at me about it -- I belittled their accomplishment (nope); I'm disqualified because of where I am originally from and what I do (nope); I don't understand the finances (that's you, not me); My school also has a silly sports program (exploration ahead); I should also be asking the same question about a rival school's program in another odd sport (which is in no way relevant to me); My question means I'm against women (hardly).

Yes, “transplanted beat writer” is quite a shot. I moved to a growing city in 1997 for a job and have now lived here longer than anywhere else in my life. What a stinging insult.

More power to them getting al they can to use towards an incredibly expensive investment. But let’s steer apple icon 144x144 precomposedaway from the myth that many bowlers are getting full rides. The 2017-18 school year at Vanderbilt cost $67,392 according to the school’s office of financial aid.

The average scholarship, if divided equally among nine bowlers (which isn’t the typical distribution, I understand) would be $19,685. Barring other scholarships, loans, etc, on average these women earn a nice break but still have to find $47,707 a year to be Commodores.

Besides the Columbia fencing stuff, there is a ton of deflection.

But there is some hope.

Here is a guy who’s actually able to like his school but not blindly defend or applaud everything about it. I presume he’s happy for the women who won, but still able to say it’s not his favorite thing and get all defensive. Imagine that.

And another able to actually look around and evaluate things.

Free memberships for you both if you want one.

Hey, you too:

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