Professional Bowler Wage: How A lot Do Professionals Make?


Those who dream of becoming a professional bowler usually have some questions about the process.

Our article on going pro will answer some of them, and today's piece will cover another important piece of the puzzle: how much can you expect when you succeed in your pro bowling adventure.

How do professional bowlers make money?

Bowling professionals mostly make money from it Earn prize money in tournaments.

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

The United States' Professional Bowling Tour (PBA) is the premier tour in the sport. There are some tours in other countries (like Japan's Professional Bowling Association, known as JPBA), but top professionals from around the world aspire to join the PBA.

Most people will think of the main pro tour that is shown on TV, but there are others for different groups of bowlers including juniors and those who are 50+. There are also various PBA Regional Tours that also host tournaments in certain parts of the country.

On the main tour, most events are open to all PBA membership, and it is even possible to participate in a variety of tournaments as a non-member, provided you meet all qualifications (including a minimum average). Read the PBA Frequently Asked Questions for more information on this topic.

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

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

First, the best professional bowlers over the past several years have average salaries $ 200,000 to $ 300,000. However, the average salary of all employed people is significantly lower.

In any job, it is important to distinguish between the top earners, who are typically much more experienced, and those who are new to the job and are likely to earn much less in comparison.

In bowling, one source estimates that the average pro-bowling salary is 25% of the top bowlers, which, given the numbers above, would come to about $ 60,000. The Zip Recruiter job exchange, on the other hand, has a lower average bowling salary of $ 42,450 per year.

What about the prize pools for tournaments won? The biggest events can offer huge paydays. For example, the PBA Players Championship kicked off the season in 2021 with a $ 1,000,000 prize fund, including $ 250,000 for first place and $ 130,000 for second place.

In contrast, an event in 2021 on one of the PBA Regional Tours (in this case, the PBA IL Valley Super Bowl Midwest Open) has a prize pool of $ 2,500 (estimated) for first place, $ 940 for the 4th and up to $ 600 for 12th place.

At the end of the day, money made directly from competition is nowhere near the only way to make money from bowlers. In order to bring their salary to a respectable level, other sources are necessary.

Many bowlers make up a large part of their total compensation Referrals and sponsorship sponsor for equipment such as bowling balls and accessories. Many professionals also make money running Clinics and bowling coaching for budding bowlers of all ages.

Finally, more well-known professionals can use Bowling exhibitions and other types of public or private appearances.

Why Are Bowling Salaries So Low Today?

Things looked very different for bowlers in the 1960s and 70s. During this time, known as the "golden age" of bowling, top professionals made "twice as much money as NFL stars, signed multi-million dollar deals and were hailed as international celebrities" (Rise and Fall). In fact, a bowler was the first person to ever land a $ 1 million sponsorship deal (Don Carter 1964).

The 1970s was the best decade for PBA merit leaders in terms of salaries $ 446,710 (adjusted for inflation), which is much higher than current income. In the following decades, however, the top salaries tended down significantly. Today's top salaries in bowling pale in comparison to the lowest of the lowest in almost every other professional sport. So what caused this sharp decline?

Sponsorship is a big factor, and the PBA lost some of its main sponsors when the league was much more popular. TV coverage is also less than it used to be as there is much more competition for eyeballs. Gone are the days of regularly showing bowling tournaments on network channels like ABC. Finally, advances in bowling materials have made high scores much easier for more bowlers to achieve, reducing the appeal of bowling as a spectator sport for some spectators.

Future prospects for bowling salaries

For the situation to change and for bowling salaries to rise in the years to come, a few things would have to happen.

First, the PBA would have to keep gaining popularity with the newer generations, which would then increase sponsorship revenue and the value of TV rights. The recent influx of new streaming services interested in acquiring a wide range of sports could add healthy competition to the landscape and lead to better bowling deals.

Even in the age of social media, it would be good for the tour to have more exciting bowling personalities who generate a large following on Instagram or other networks. After all, American polls regularly name bowling their favorite recreational sport, and a large percentage report visiting a bowling center at least once a year. Bowling is especially popular with kids, so turning them into lifelong fans of the sport would work wonders to bring bowling salaries back up to scratch. It is unlikely that we will ever see a repeat of the "golden years" of the 1960s and 1970s, but there is still plenty of room to make the game a more attractive proposition for aspiring professionals.

Additional sources

"The Rise and Fall of Professional Bowling," Priceonomics


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