>Wednesday Lunch: Bowling is a Sport. Really, It Is!

Posted: January 26, 2011 in bowling, pba
Tags: , , ,


By Nick Gallaudet


I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about what the difference between sports and games and what qualifies as what (for example, I felt that poker was a game, but table tennis and golf were sports). We went back and forth on a couple things, but mostly agreed, until we got to bowling. My friend refused to call bowling a sport. I spent a while trying to convince him otherwise, but he wouldn’t have it. Bowling certainly isn’t the first thing to comes to mind when thinking of popular sports, but it most definitely is not just a game, and by the end of this article, you will know why.


Most of what I knew about the culture of bowling came from The Big Lebowski., and the only bowling leagues I had seen were full of beer bellies and Cubans in purple jumpsuits. Recently, however, my co-worker, Kayla, introduced me to the bowling culture. Kayla is on the UC Davis Varsity Bowling Team and invited me to be on her team in her super-duper competitive bowling league. Okay, maybe it’s not that competitive, but as far as I was concerned, she just asked me to go pro. I’m not a very good bowler: I routinely struggle to break 100, and nearly destroyed a bowling alley last year with a laser gutter ball, but despite my less-than-stellar bowling ability, I love to bowl and I jumped at the opportunity.


After I graduated high school, my friend Andy and I went out, bought our own bowling balls and bowling shoes, and went bowling almost every day that summer. I have always enjoyed bowling, but I was never able to take my game to the next level. I tried everything; I recorded bowling tournaments on ESPN and broke down their form’ I looked online for help on getting my stroke down, but no matter what I did, my score hovered around 140 that summer until I finally gave up on it. I figured that after watching my scores stagnate despite all the work I put into it, I just wasn’t cut out for bowling. I thought it was like any other sport, either you had it or you didn’t, and I just didn’t have it.


My bowling ball and bowling shoes just sat in my closet after I gave up on my dream of being on the PBA Tour as a cruel reminder of what I could never be. Kind of. I really didn’t care that much, but being invited back into the world of bowling by Kayla reinvigorated my drive to be the next Walter Ray Williams, Jr. I was so excited for the league that I spent hours looking for uniforms worthy of my new team, and I am embarrassed to report I still haven’t settled on one yet (but the INFERNO is in the lead). I recruited another one of my friends, Danny, and together, we were ready to take down the Wednesday night Davis bowling league.



At first, I was nervous to play in this league, because the only time I had seen Kayla bowl; she bowled a 230 like it was nothing. I was astounded. I didn’t know average humans could bowl like that, and I was afraid Kayla was going to kick me out of the alley the first time I failed to break 100. She quickly assuaged my fears, however, and let me know it was just a casual league, and scores didn’t really matter, so I was okay with the fact that I was going to kill our team’s average.



The time had finally come for our first game. From the second I walked into the bowling alley that Wednesday night, I knew I was in for a surprise. I have never seen a bowling league in person before. Sure, I had seen many bowling tournaments on TV, but I figured they were an anomaly; no regular person had five bowling balls, right? Wrong. I brought my single bowling ball out of retirement, and feared I would look silly bringing my own ball to this league, but I could not have been more wrong. It was like I brought bike helmet to a football game. It was not uncommon for a person to wheel out a suitcase with three balls in it. People had little leopard-print booties to cover the sole of their bowling shoes, wrist braces, and four billion different colors of athletic tape. People were taping their fingers all different colors and used rosin bags like they were Cliff Lee, I had no idea there was so much extra stuff used for bowling.


I could not have felt more out of place, but I didn’t care. I was soaking up the atmosphere and observing the rituals people went through before every shot. As a baseball player, I do the same thing before every pitch, whether it is in the field or in the batter’s box, I have a routine I stick to. It is no different in bowling, when real bowlers step up to toe the line; they focus the same way a hitter does before the pitcher delivers. I could write an entire article about how similar bowling and hitting are, and I wasn’t the only person who noticed it either. Danny, one of my teammates on the UC Davis Club Baseball team, made the same comparisons I did. We both recognized when we were thinking too much, when we were feeling uncomfortable with our “swing,” and once I recognized that, I felt like I was ready to bowl.


I bowled a 181 that first game, and followed it up with a solid 70. You read that right, 70. I broke down. I hit a wall. I felt like Jamie Moyer after 6 innings. My left leg was dying, my shoulder and wrist were sore, and my fingers were hurting. I know this makes me sound like an old man…a fat old man. I swear I’m not, I exercise every day, but doing 20-plus lunges swinging a 16-pound ball just isn’t one of the exercises I do, and I still had two more games to bowl after the 70. I have never had a muscle ache the way my hip ached the next day, and I was sore for a week. It was a rude awakening for me, I figured bowling four games in a row was not going to be a big deal, but I was dead wrong. However, the physical pain wasn’t enough to keep me out of the next two games, I was tired, but I wasn’t letting my team down.


As a team, we bowled a solid first two games, but I didn’t want to be that guy. I wasn’t going to be the weak link. I dug deep, and using my teammate Andrew’s 198 and 199 in the first two games as inspiration, I came back strong and bowled a 150 in the third game. That was when I figured out the game was 90% mental. If you think you’re going to bowl well, you will bowl well. Having overcome the physical and mental barriers, I was ready to attack. I only bowled a 130 the last game, but that’s okay, because I didn’t expect to break 120 all night, and I did it three times.


I learned a lot from that one night of bowling. Kayla and Andrew have been bowling their whole lives, work with coaches, and bowl two to three times a week. 60%-70% of the bowlers in the league were on the UCD Bowling Team, according to Kayla, and by the looks of it, they exhibited the same commitment as my teammates. These athletes are dedicated to their craft, spend hours at the lanes, and are constantly honing their stroke. They have so many different bowling balls because not every lane has the same oil pattern and adjustments need to be made, since different balls allow for different degrees of movement. It takes time to feel out a lane, and it’s not a whole lot different from a batter making adjustments against a pitcher. I can’t even begin describe the respect I have for these bowlers and how silly it was for me to think that one summer of bowling with my friend would make me a real bowler. It takes dedication and knowledge of the sport to really reach your potential, and it’s not something you can just pick up and expect to be great. The physical conditioning it takes to make sure your form doesn’t break down through the course of a tournament is much greater than you would expect, and all it takes is one gutter ball to throw you of your game, mentally. Bowlers need to prepare for a big competition the same way any other athlete would, plus, they have sweet uniforms, and that’s really, what defines a sport.

  1. Daniel says:

    >As a completely non-partisan reader I must say that this Danny fellow seems to be very knowledgeable and his looks are most likely intoxicating… Nevertheless, great article. Bowling is the business.

  2. >Yeah, he usually does look pretty intoxicated. He bowls like it, too.

  3. Flyingoose says:

    >Great article, Nick. I will never watch the dude bowl in the same way again.

  4. Madalene Vopava says:

    Muscle aches can be remedied as fast as possible by taking in OTC pain killers like ibuprofen but be advised that they have some side effects too.:,”:”

    Till next time http://foodsupplementdigest.com/l-arginine-dosage/

  5. Irving Schuller says:

    Getting frequent muscle aches is common if you are doing some bodybuilding stuffs. If the pain is just too much, i just take some OTC pain killer.`

    Take a look at our personal online site too

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