Authors: David F. Zinn
College of Business, Lander University, Greenwood, South Carolina, USA
David F. Zinn
Assistant Professor of Sport Management
College of Business
Carnell Learning Center, M54
320 Stanley Ave.
Greenwood, SC 29649
David F. Zinn, EdD, currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Sport Management and the NCAA Faculty Athletic Representative at Lander University. A former NCAA Women’s Basketball Coach and Athletic Director, Zinn’s major research interests include global sport, sport geography, sport leadership, and intercollegiate sport.
Strikes, Pins, Gutter Balls, and…Maps: A Review of the Spatial Geography of NCAA Women’s Bowling
Spatial geography is important to the understanding of any human activity as this field helps to determine where and why specific activities occur and flourish. As proximity to campus and access to sport opportunity are important determinants in college choice, the spatial relationship between campuses and hometowns are important components in the marketing of programs to potential recruits. The intent of this study is to examine the geography of Women’s Bowling, a relatively unstudied and newer NCAA championship sport, in terms of the locations of institutions sponsoring the sport and the relationship with hometowns of student-athletes on current rosters.
Rosters for women’s bowlers participating in the 2023 season were downloaded from team athletic websites and distances from reported hometowns and campuses were calculated via Google Maps to provide an approximate distance from a student-athlete’s home to the institution for whom they compete. Distances to hometowns were averaged per team and by NCAA division to determine relative distance to campus and states where bowling recruits tended to originate.
Data from the 2023 season indicated that the sport of Women’s Bowling is highly geographical in nature. While bowlers were willing to attend an institution further away from their hometown at the Division I level as compared to Division II and III institutions, most bowlers tend to commit to programs relatively close to their hometowns. Additionally, data suggests that large percentages of these athletes are from areas located in a relatively small section of the USA.
Spatial geography plays an impactful role in both the sponsoring of women’s bowling and in the recruitment of student-athletes into these programs. Data suggests that, with a few exceptions, the further a school is located from the Great Lakes area, the fewer collegiate programs and the fewer potential student-athletes exist. Additionally, participants in the lower levels of NCAA competition tend to commit to schools much closer to their listed hometown than those who play on an NCAA I team.
Applications in Sport
The findings of this study may prove beneficial to administrators considering adding Women’s Bowling to their offerings and to coaches who are looking for prime recruiting areas to develop their teams. Also, as most of these teams are located at smaller colleges and universities, this data may prove beneficial in considering how limited resources might be best allocated.
Keywords: Bowling, Distance, Geography, Location, Spatial(more…)