Some people want to tell me the sport of bowling is dead or dying fast. The Pro Tour is not in very good shape. The country has seen the decline of almost 8 million league bowler’s over the past 20 years from 10 million to 2 million. Junior programs are down. Most would argue the shot on the lanes is so easy you do not need to be a pro to have a good average. These facts are what they are, facts, and sometimes it is hard to argue with the facts, but not this time!
Freeway Lanes of Wickliffe hosted the NCAA Woman’s National Championship last week, and if you think the sport of bowling is dying or dead, you did not come to this tournament. The tournament was filled with almost 70 bright, young, athletic and attractive women, and I have to tell the level of competition was fierce. We have hosted great pro tour stops, but they did not have the same atmosphere of excitement and hope. These Ladies were here to win, and you could feel it with every shot, every high five, every cheer, and yes every tear with the realization of defeat. It made you believe in the competition of bowling and the hope that young people are taking this sport very seriously.
High School bowling continues to grow, and the Men’s USBC Collegiate Championship just went on in Lincoln, Nebraska. We hosted a college tournament this year that was 64 teams, and again it proved that we need to pay more attention and promote this level of play to the general public. As league bowler’s we need to stand behind these competitions. We enjoy bowling on a league because of camaraderie and competition, and we need to always keep in mind what keeps the sport of bowling alive. It is the higher level players that make us aspire to be better. This gives us goals in our own game and strums the inner chords of our own personal beasts to be competitive and have fun! This to me is what makes the game of bowling interesting. Whether you are a cosmic bowlertrying to kick the butt of your friend to impress a girl (or guy), or you are bowling on a league competing for the prize fund, this is a huge part of what keeps us coming back week after week.
Freeway Lanes has put its best foot forward in supporting the sport of bowling in the Cleveland area, and is the clear leader in this arena. We have more youth scholarship tournaments, host 3 college teams, and promote and host some of the best amateur competitions this side of the Mississippi. I know that having tournaments can be a real inconvenience to our league bowlers, but in our opinion without these competitions the sport of bowling one day will die, and it is up to all of us that love bowling to promote our own game to keep it thriving. I think it is short sighted not to embrace the competitions in bowling centers across America.
In full disclosure I am a 175 average league bowler. When a knock down night happens somehow I find it within me to be a 185 average bowler for that night, as I thrive on any type of competition. The night of the NCAA tournament I was in the elaborate ESPN trailer watching 9 people produce this live bowling event(See picture of my sons in trailer below.) I was watching all the people piece together the telecast and one of the girls from Fairleigh Dickenson had a great shot for a strike. She came running back and did a full fledge flying chest butt with another girl and continued to high five everyone else. The ESPN guys in the trailer and me were floored by the passion and the energy. There was not one of us not saying “Wow, that was cool!” Trust me when I tell you, the sport of bowling is not dead! Go into your local bowling alley, join a league, and kick some ass, you will feel better!