Where's the excitement?

Dec 19th 2022

Here is a question for bowlers reading this post. What makes you get excited when bowling? Is it a strike? Is it a 3 bagger/turkey? Is it shooting an honor score? Do you get excited to face a specific player?

During a recent conversation between a PBA professional, an amateur tournament bowler, and a recreational bowler, a discussion of why is there no excitement in our sport anymore got pretty intense.

During the days of wood lanes and lane patterns done by hand (usual once or twice a week), bowlers threw the ball hoping to hit the pocket with even bigger hopes that they would knock down all 10 pins for a strike. If someone had six or seven strikes in a row, people would start to watch to see if they would throw the next one. By the approach for the nine strikes, most lanes were stopped and watching. And for the tenth frame the whole building would be watching to see if they could strike three more times. If that bowler was lucky enough to throw a 300, they were overjoyed. It meant something to them and everyone else in the building. It was talked about in the bowling center in the following days. Most local papers would write something about it.

Fast forward to the 2000's. The lanes have changed. The lanes are now cleaned and oiled once a day and not by hand but with machines that cost as much as an average sports car. The lane patterns are consistent from lane to lane and week to week. A 300/800 could be thrown by any person in the bowling center, no matter the average or skill level. The bowler will get a few claps from the people bowling around them. There will be nothing in the local paper and if someone post it on social media, it will be just one of several posted that day, and scrolled right past on everyone’s feed.

Bowlers now expect that any ball that hits the pocket will be a strike. Most bowlers will give more of a reaction when they don’t strike then when they do.

What is the reason for this lack of excitement? In my opinion, it is the greed of bowling proprietors. Over the years, bowlers have moved from center to center where the lane pattern has favored high scores. One center may have a higher scoring environment, so the following season, the center down the street will make their house pattern easier to entice bowlers to come back.The ABC/USBC never drew a line to say where a lane condition must be.

So, in today’s bowling environment, as soon as the ball hits the lane the bowler expects to strike.

Growing up in the urethane era, you drilled the latest and greatest bowling ball in hopes that it would carry the corner pins a little bit better. Today, bowlers drill the latest and greatest expecting their next honor score.

Please send us a message with your thoughts on the subject. We enjoy hearing other thoughts on this matter.