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Acorn Newsmagazine

The Student News Site of Royal Oak High School

Acorn Newsmagazine

Is Bowling a Competitive Sport?

Is+Bowling+a+Competitive+Sport%3F

Bowling has captivated the American public for decades. While the sport peaked in popularity in the 1950’s, it still has a strong following today. According to the United States Bowling Congress, in a typical year, 67 million people go bowling in the United States alone. Many go for a nice relaxing time and to hopefully get a strike. However, many go to the alley for a completely different reason: to play one of the most technical and innovative sports in the world. Some people don’t regard bowling as a competitive sport, or even a sport at all. But to me, bowling is that competitive sport, where a quarter of an inch can be the difference between a game winning strike or a soul crushing 7-10 split.
Before I start detailing all of the reasons that bowling is in fact a sport, we need to answer the question: what exactly defines a sport?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “sport” is defined as: “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

With that definition in place, I will go point by point proving that bowling is a sport. Bowling is a physical sport in its nature, as you need to be rather healthy to play properly. You need to have balance, as well as strength in your legs and arms to be able to play at a competitive level. A typical bowling ball is 15 pounds, and a typical speed for a ball to be thrown is around 15-18 miles per hour. To achieve this requires two separate but intertwined movements. The first of these is the backswing, where you drop the ball, push the ball away from yourself ,and allow gravity to swing it back and then forward again, where you will eventually release the ball. The second of the movements are the steps to the lane. Regardless of how many initial steps you take, if any, it will always boil down to the last four steps, where the backswing occurs, as well as the final step where you post your shot and release the ball. That final step is also not just a step, but a step that ends in a slide. Bowling shoes have pads on the bottom of them that allow you to slide, which is the reason a trip to the alley requires that you wear bowling shoes. The slide is important because it gives you more balance and stability for your release, as well as reducing stress on your knees, thereby reducing the chance of injury. These movements,-the back swing and the steps toward the lane – encompass all of the maneuvers required in the sport of bowling. After you execute these motions, all you can do is watch and hope that the ball gets that strike or spare that you are going for. How the ball will react when it finally reaches the lane is highly dependent on your form, but there is another factor in place: the kind of bowling ball.
A wide variety of bowling balls are available for purchase in the modern day. Each ball is made differently and every single ball does something different. Despite this variety, bowling balls can be boiled down to a few distinct types. Plastic, urethane, and reactive resin balls.
Plastic balls are the easiest to explain. They are obviously made out of plastic, and designed to go straight with no movement whatsoever. Plastic balls are typically used for spare shooting. Urethane is the next type of bowling ball. Urethane balls are made out of a polyurethane material, and are designed to have a smooth
arcing motion down the lane. Urethane balls were created in the 1980s, and they quickly came to dominate bowling alleys across the United States. The final type of bowling ball, reactive resin or reactive balls, are balls designed to have a strong hooking motion down the lane. Of the three types of balls, reactive is by far the strongest. Reactive balls are made of the same polyurethane material as urethane balls, but with small amounts of resin that help to increase traction on the lane. A balanced bag, or the collection of balls that you bring to the alley, should typically be a combination of these three types.
Now you may be asking, “Why should I need to have all of these different types of bowling balls? Why not just have one?” Well, the reason that you wouldn’t want to just have a single bowling ball is because you never know how the ball will react to the lanes. The reason for this is oil. Bowling alleys put oil on the lanes to protect them, but this also raises the possibility of having the balls skid. This in turn prompted the creation of the different types of aforementioned balls. There are thousands of different types of oil patterns that are put out on the lanes. Some are designed to be easy to play and to get high scores, while others are made for more competitive environments with much smaller margins of error. A typical oil condition that bowling alleys often put out is a “House Shot.” A “House Shot” is one of the easiest conditions that could be put out as they are made to incentivize high scores. A “House Shot” is the condition used for open bowling, as well as a large number of bowling leagues.
In bowling, a league is a competitive environment where people meet and bowl, typically once a week, where teams go head to head to determine who is the best. A league can be set up in numerous ways, but the most common consists of five member teams that bowl head to head against each other. League is the most common form of competitive environment in bowling, as it allows for both a high level of competition, while also having a relatively low barrier to entry. The main barrier to entry is the number of people who are interested in joining the league. If you have enough people, then you can effectively join whatever league is accepting new teams. According to the definition of a sport that was included earlier in the article, a sport is a physical and skilled activity that occurs in a competitive environment. Bowling, and more specifically, bowling in league, fits that definition perfectly. The skill required to play the game, and play it well is rather immense and the competitive environment in bowling can be among the most difficult in the world. Bowling is a sport in the same way that basketball, football, and baseball are sports.
Bowling is one of the most interesting sports out there. It has existed in some form for thousands of years, and has slowly evolved into the sport it is today. The current version of the sport has been around for a hundred years, and has become more advanced as time has gone on. The ways in which you can play the game are near infinite, and new balls and oil patterns will constantly be created so that there are always new challenges to overcome. This innovation has led and will continue to make bowling one of the most technologically advanced and innovative sports in the world.

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About the Contributor
Aidan Morris, Layout Editor
Hello! My name is Aidan Morris and I am a Senior here at ROHS. As a layout editor, a position I share with Estela, I work to create the layout of the magazine putting together the ads, photos, and stories. When I’m not writing and working on Layout’s, I enjoy going on walks, going to the ponds at the graveyard, spending time with friends, and going bowling. I have been a member of the ROHS bowling team for 3 years now. My favorite memory was when we beat North Farmington at home last year. I can’t wait to see how my final year of Acorn goes and I am certain it will be a wonderful year.

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