Those who dream of becoming a professional bowling player often have many questions about the process.

Our article on going professional will answer many, and today’s piece will address another important part of the puzzle: how much you can expect to earn if you succeed in your quest for professional bowling.

How do Pro Bowlers make money?

The main way to make money with bowling professionals is make money in tournaments.

While this fact is simple enough, it is important to understand how tournaments work and how much money is at stake.

The Professional Bowling Tour (PBA) of the United States is the first tour in this sport. There are some tours in other countries (such as the Japanese Bowling Professional Association known as JPBA), but the best professionals around the world aspire to join the PBA.

Most people will think of the main professional tour shown on television, but there are also others for different groups of bowling alleys, including juniors and those over 50. There are also several PBA regional tours that also host tournaments in certain parts of the country.

For the main tour, most events are open to all PBA members, and it is even possible to compete in various tournaments as non-members assuming you meet all qualifications (including a minimum average). Read the PBA FAQ for more information.

How much do you earn on the tour? To win a Pro tournament?

Now that you know the basics of how the professional tournament works, let’s add some real numbers.

First, in recent years, the best professional football players have earned an average salary of $ 200,000 to $ 300,000. The average salary of all professionals, however, is much lower.

With any occupation, it’s important to differentiate between the highest earners who typically have much more experience and those who are newer to the job and probably earn much less by comparison.

With bowling, a source estimates that the average professional bowling salary is 25% of the best bowling players, which would reach approximately $ 60,000 given the above figures. The employment website Zip Recruiter, on the other hand, gives a lower average bowling salary of $ 42,450 a year.

What about the prizes for winning tournaments? Larger events can provide large paydays. For example, the opening season of the 2021 PBA Player Championship featured a prize pool of $ 1,000,000, including $ 250,000 for first place and $ 130,000 for second place.

Instead, a 2021 event on one of PBA’s regional tours (in this case, the PBA IL Valley Super Bowl Midwest Open) has a prize pool that includes $ 2,500 (projected) for first place, $ 940 for 4th and up to $ 600 for the 12th.

After all, money earned directly from the competition is far from the only way to make money. To get your salary at a respectable level, other sources are needed.

Many bolers get a big chunk of their total compensation endorsements and sponsorships for equipment such as bowling balls and accessories. Many professionals also earn money for running bowling clinics and training for aspiring bowlers of all ages.

Finally, better known professionals can also win bowling displays and other types of public or private appearances.

Why are bowling salaries so low today?

In the sixties and seventies, things were very different for bowlers. During this time period known as the “golden age” of bowling, the best professionals “earned twice as much money as NFL stars, signed multi-million dollar contracts and advertised as celebrities. international “(Rise and Fall). In fact, a bowler was the first person to reach a sponsorship deal worth a million dollars (Don Carter in 1964).

For PBA earnings leaders, the 1970s were the best decade, as were wages. $ 446,710 (adjusted for inflation) which is much higher than current profits. In the following decades, however, major wages declined significantly. Today’s best bowling salaries are pale compared to the lowest in almost any other professional sport. So what caused this sharp decline?

One of the main factors is sponsorships, and the PBA has lost some of its major sponsors when the league was much more popular. Television coverage is also lower than it was now, when there is much more competition for eyeballs. The days of bowling tournaments that are regularly shown on network stations like ABC are over. Finally, advances in bowling materials have made the higher score much more achievable for more bowling players, which reduces the appeal of bowling as a spectator sport for some spectators.

Future prospects for bowling salaries

For the situation to turn around and bowling salaries to increase in the coming years, a few things would have to happen.

First, the PBA should continue to grow in popularity among new generations, which would increase sponsorship revenue and the value of television rights. The recent influx of new online streaming services interested in acquiring a wide range of sports could add healthy competition to the landscape and lead to better bowling deals.

Also, in the age of social media, having more exciting bowling personalities that generate a great following on Instagram or other networks would be a good thing for the tour. After all, Americans regularly point to bowling as their favorite recreational sport in polls and a huge percentage of reports that they visit a bowling alley at least once a year. Bowling is especially popular among children, so becoming a lifelong fan of the sport would do wonders for starting to recoup bowling salaries to a higher level. We’re unlikely to ever see the repeat of the “golden years” of the 60s and 70s, but there’s still plenty of room to help make the game a more appealing proposition for aspiring professionals.

Additional sources

“The rise and fall of professional bowling” Priceonomics

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