So why do I like bowling so much? Let me count the ways...
- It's an amusing way to experience the physics of motion in real life.
- Momentum, kinetic energy, and the study of collisions can help with basic strategy like deciding which ball to use and how to throw it.
- A good grasp of vectors and spatial visualization inform an intuitive sense of where to aim.
- At the more advanced level, rolling friction and rotational motion allow more control of the "curve" of the throw.
- On a primal science-and-engineering level, there's something very exciting about doing something at one end of the lane, watching in anticipation for a moment, and seeing the results you caused at the other end of the lane.
- It can be accessible to a wide variety of skill and ability levels.
- Difficulty lifting the ball? Use a lighter ball.
- Unable to throw the ball? Use a launching ramp.
- Problems with aiming consistently? Deploy the gutter bumpers.
- Maybe you're bowling a perfect 300 every time, and that's okay. Maybe you're happy to knock down any pins at all, and that's okay.
- Everybody's welcome; as long as you're having fun and respecting the equipment and your fellow bowlers, you're doing it right.
- It is as social as you want it to be.
- In the mid-20th century golden age of "bowling centers," many huge alleys were built to be community hubs, with attached restaurants, bars, stores, meeting rooms, and even child care.
- You can bowl every week with a league, you can bowl once a month on your own, you can bowl once a year with a bunch of friends on your birthday, or anywhere in-between.
- At heart, the bowling alley is a pleasant climate-controlled place where you can throw stuff at other stuff while surrounded by friends and strangers having a good time.
- It's a rare example of a sport that doesn't have to be cut-throat competitive.
- ...in that your scoring of points doesn't involve taking points away from other players.
- You can knock down some pins, and your friends can knock down some pins, and you can be happy for each other that you all did well. The greatness of one bowler does not diminish the greatnes of the other bowlers.
- It's even possible for all players to score a perfect 300 in the same game.
- That's another unusual aspect of bowling: there is a maximum score. In the standard scoring system, a perfect throw every time will get a total of exactly 300 points over the course of the game; no more, no less.
- Are you wondering, then, what else there is to accomplish once a bowler gets so good that every game is a perfect 300? The late great Andy Varipapa provides one answer: showing off with amazing trick shots.
- The sights and sounds associated with it are magnificent.
- Those bowling centers were being built around the same time that Googie architecture was really hitting its stride, so quite a few of them incorporated those space-age aesthetics to emphasize both the high-tech automated pin setter / ball return systems and the general cleanliness of the facilities. Check out these classic examples:
- And of course few sounds are quite so satisfying as the THUD-roll-roll-roll-BANG-clatter-clatter of a strike!
Want to give it a try? Join me in the Memorial Union Bowling Alley (downstairs near the information desk) on Wednesdays 1:45-2:30 pm throughout summer session. (For students, prices are $5 per game plus $2 for shoe rental.)