Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bowling is an Unsung Hero. You Think I'm Joking.

I was at a diner with my mother on Saturday morning. ESPN was showing on one of the televisions nearby and a commercial came on for the upcoming bowling championships. It had just hit me: I had never written about bowling before. I mentioned it to my mother, who was a part of a bowling team back around when I was in grade school. After I had brought it up to her, she said, "Who writes about bowling?" Truthfully, she was right. Nobody really does write about bowling.
I'm breaking that law today.

Bumpers. Black lights. Pizza. Soda. Beer. Arcades in the background. Those shoes. The pixelated screen. Without even mentioning the balls and the pins, you can already tell that I'm describing a bowling alley to you. Whether you've played for a team, at a birthday party, or just out of boredom with friends on a Saturday night, this sport goes down in history with miniature golf as a fun time that any person can pick up on at any time. Yes, it can even be fun for those people that aren't well-coordinated.

Bowling is an interesting sport. While it has many competitive sides to it, there's also that richness in ice-breaking and bringing people together. Even though it's a highly competitive (and scientific) sport, it's an underrated social pastime that people might not realize how great it may actually be. It's like meat and potatoes. Or, if you're a vegan, it's more like veggies with peanut sauce.

To me, bowling is like that adorably fuzzy grandfather you only see maybe once or twice a year and they always treat you like a jewel whenever you stop by to visit them (not to mention slipping you a $20 bill for no real reason).  It's one of those things that give you good memories and funny stories of events that happened. Heck, I remember one time where a friend of mine from high school threw the ball and screamed, "This...Is...Bowling!" in the style of the film 300. He turned to me and my friends, grunted, and got a strike. You don't forget gold like that. Bowling is also that kind of fun competition where you know you might not be that good and you don't feel bad because your friend may be just as bad as you are. I never quite understood the philosophy behind that, but when it comes to something like this, you really don't feel like questioning it because you may open up a can of worms somehow.

What you just read may have made you feel warm-hearted on the inside. At least, I hope it did. Now's where the EXTREME parts come in. Don't be scared. I'm just going to give the potatoes part of the "meat and potatoes" of this blog post.

Have you ever watched professional bowling on TV? Now, I've watched my mother play for her bowling league before, and compared to what I have watched on television, the stuff they do on TV is not human.

As you might have figured, there's a lot of physics involved in the sport of bowling. Most people will see a 7-10 split and cry where these pros say, "psh, no problem," and then grab the spare. From the work of the wrist to the spin of the ball, it's a sport based on such precision. The pros that make it to the big time have worked on their craft so much and so long that they make the job look so easy. To watch the ball naturally curve the way it does is hypnotic through a layman's eyes. If you're awful at science, you just simply have to ask, "How on EARTH did they do that?" There's a method to every bowler's routine. Their discipline and their patience are as heavily matched as professional golfers or archers: they must not waver when it comes to any distraction. Plus, another side to this sport is that there really isn't a true age-limit here. You could see men and women into their 60's playing competitively. When you see a veteran in this sport, you really see a veteran. There's such an inner science to this sport that the uninformed person may not be able to fathom. It's a religion to these guys, and you have to admit that it's pretty amazing to watch these pro bowlers.


Bowling, like golf, keeps people more active in their later years. Since these sports are treated like a social gathering where the chances of injury are rather slim to none (unless there's the ridiculous chance you develop tennis-elbow or carpal tunnel), it's a good way to stay in a relatively good shape and remain social with friends and family. Even though there's a competitive edge to it when it comes to team play, it's seen as a friendly rivalry, and it will certainly keep things fresh in your friendship. When you play a sport like this, you don't realize the inner benefits that are provided while playing. There's physical, mental, and emotional strengths that are gained here--it's quite therapeutic, if you ask me. When you hit stuff...c'mon, don't lie, it feels good.

I will be one to admit this: bowling is a really underrated sport. It truly is an unsung hero in sports since it takes a lot of precision and grit to become a virtuoso in the art. Sure, people will raise the argument where "if it doesn't make you sweat, it doesn't count as a sport," and I say 'nay' to that. It's a large-scale recreational activity that will bring people together and test people's skill and attitudes. It might not be a physical sport, but it's one of strategy, and there's no room for joking when one plans out a strategy.
I have a lot of respect for the people that follow bowling and have made it a part of their lifestyle. It certainly isn't the easiest of sports to master, but it's something that's simple enough for the average person to pick up, play, and enjoy regardless of the underlying physics of the sport.

Bowling is just a good time.

For the record, you shouldn't mess with me in Wii Bowling. I've got that thing figured out. I like to call myself the Turkey Hunter. No, I don't. I made that up. I'm still pretty awesome at Wii Bowling though.