Bowling: The Under-Looked Sport

by Tiffany Voon

A typical person associates the game of bowling with memories of having fun with friends or family while eating some fried finger food on a weekend. But in fact, bowling is also a competitive sport; professionals may bowl eight taxing games at a time in multiple day tournaments.

Most people do not often think of bowling as a sport because they are not aware of the skill it requires to bowl as well as a professional. Serious bowlers have their own custom-drilled bowling balls that are specific to lane conditions that will affect how they bowl. In addition, bowlers must keep in mind that oil patterns change as games go on, making bowling both a physical and mental game.  Furthermore, bowlers consistently practice to improve their power and accuracy. Adjustments that bowlers make during a game may be so subtle that non-experienced players may not even discern while watching them play, such as moving over just one board to the left or right to maintain a strike shot.

Professional bowlers dedicate their life to their sport just like other professional athletes do. For example, Bill Fong, who set the Texas state record for his 899 3-game-series, had no romantic relationships because he was a bowler. He often went to the alley five to six times a week alone to practice. Fong’s friends said that he is a perfectionist, like many other athletes, and that “Everything is bowling to him. That’s his entire life.”

Moreover, bowling is a sport that is currently growing in popularity. As of 2016, there are over 60 universities that have active NCAA teams, up from 42 teams in 2003, and over 90 NYC public schools that have active PSAL teams. In addition, bowling competitions can be intensely competitive just like any other sport. During Brooklyn Tech’s PSAL games, there are times of pure silence in the alley when someone was getting ready to take a shot towards the end of a close game. This year, the Tech girls team reached the Semifinals round in the playoffs and qualified an unprecedented ten players to the Borough Championships (most schools typically send two players).  

However, it is often difficult to get the interest of students simply because most high schools and universities do not have their own lanes, and few people are willing to travel off campus to watch a game of bowling. But, the attention that bowling may receive if it is included in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo may spark more people to gain an interest in bowling and respect bowling as a competitive sport.

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