Editorial: It's time bowling gents caught up

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Auckland club's outdated ban on women is an embarrassment to sport

Photo / Dean Purcell
Photo / Dean Purcell

At the venerable age of 151 the Auckland Bowling Club has a couple of years on the Herald, so it might not take kindly to a mere upstart urging it to grow up. But as one of the only clubs in the country that still bars women from full membership, it has clearly become an embarrassment to bowling too.

Bowls NZ's marketing manager, a woman, says: "We do not support the continuation of single-gender clubs in today's society. Our sport is values-based and any segregation ... does not fit within our values and mission." That sort of palaver does not endear anybody to modernity either, but she is right.

Women have separate gyms for fear of prying eyes but men today are not against women's company. They are accustomed to working alongside women, dealing with them in business, meeting them on equal terms almost everywhere except sports, where a male physical advantage necessitates separate competition. That is probably not true of bowls. It might be unkind to suggest the sport was segregated for so long in case the ladies won.

For whatever reason, bowling was not integrated until 1996, and even now, there are 26 that operate as separate clubs in the same premises, but only two - the other in Christchurch - that bar women.

There is no law against it and there should not be. But law is just a minimum standard of conduct. Society can set higher standards, and it has. So come on gentlemen, catch up.

- NZ Herald

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