Written By: Elliot Allen
To be successful in the sport of bowling one must understand how to make adjustments, stay the course and work hard along with tremendous dedication. The results are a rewarding progression! That progress is not a quick road. However the quick road traveled is not often the most rewarding. It’s 2019 and bowling popularity has dwindled. However the qualities that the sport has to offer has increased in many ways. We live in a time in which critical thinking has become a skill that is not nurtured and constantly built. The influence of television, social media, and electronic gaming has worn down our minds ability to think critically and make adjustments based on our specific situations in front of us. Bowling embodies all of these critical situations to strengthen our minds. We living in a time with great division. So many different beliefs and ideologies. Often in modern times that disagreement in ideologies and beliefs that cause people to not be able to be in the same room let alone speak. Certainly having fun together is completely out of the question. Bowling is a sport that provides that adhesion to our society. Having all different types of people on a bowling lane breaks down the barriers and gives a commonality that is transcending!! Another perceived ill in our society is lack of opportunity. Included in that is lack of educational opportunity, and opportunities to explore and travel the world to find ultimate career goals. Yes, Bowling can also fill this perceived lack of opportunity we have in our society. Let’s look at these things closer as we bring Bowling into the present which I see a future resurgence!!
Bowling (Critical Thinking)
There is obvious physical requirements that go along with the sport of bowling. However the real root of getting better is critical thinking. Perhaps this is the foundation for my fascination for the sport. I believe so much in the strengthening of our minds by constant Mental Conditioning. I recall from early on watching the pros on television making critical adjustments on the bowling lanes during the course of match-play. Lane conditions change while in the course of playing a game. Within the game the adjustments have to be made as to where you’re standing, where you’re throwing the ball, and as well the speed you’re throwing it. This is indicative of life. Nothing stays the same, and it’s up to us to adjust to situations and stay on the course towards our goals. As an individual I’ve had the opportunity to really understand through the sport of bowling the dynamics of mental adjustments. As a youngster, bowling in a league at the age of 11 I noticed some interesting things. I was one of the smallest kids in the league with very little power behind throwing the ball and no big hook like the older, stronger kids. I only had an 8 lb bowling ball as opposed to the 14 lb and 16 lb balls the older kids were bowling with. I did figure out that I had to be more accurate with my shot to compensate for all those disadvantages I had at the time. I knew I couldn’t hook the ball, but I could throw it straight at the target that I wanted. My strike ball didn’t get the firing results of the older kids but my spares kept me competitive because I learned to be accurate. This is a critical thinking exercise that I’ve taken off the bowling alley and have applied to everyday situation.
The second opportunity I had to illustrate the dynamics of critical thinking from bowling is being a parent of two sons who are pretty avid bowlers. My oldest son has been bowling since the age of 5 and is now 12 years old. I have gotten a chance to really witness critical thinking growth in him at a very dramatic level because he is part of the generation of social media and high level gaming that breaks down critical thinking. To watch his mental growth in decision making, adjustments, and execution has been something that I truly have been so proud to watch. When he first started bowling, and got all the basics it was a challenge to get him to execute critical thinking. I would explain how to use the different arrows and markings on the lane to dictate where he’s throwing the ball in regards to the way the lane is reacting. Repetition, constant practice, and staying the course has elevated his understanding of the game. It has come to the point where my instructional moments are now mutual consultations in which his input is as much prudent as mine. At this point he has several bowling ball to adjust to lane conditions and he is effectively making decisions as to which ball to use under certain lane and game situations. As a parent that has given me a BIG TOOL in my parenting tool box to use to build critical thinking on the bowling lanes and in life.
Bowling (bringing people together)
Bowling is truly a sport of intimate commonality that brings people together. I am reminded of trip I took to Las Vegas. The hotel we were staying at had a temporary black out one morning. To stay cool we went across the street to South Point Hotel Casino and walked around. While walking around we actually stumbled into a Pro-Am tournament. It was very exciting to see that one of the rising stars in bowling, Jakob Butturff, bowling live. They also had a large vending area to buy bowling paraphernalia and equipment. In the course of purchasing some bowling shirts, we met a gentleman in his 80s who told us he had been travelling and COMPETING in this tournament for 50 years! During our conversation he talked to me about the camaraderie of bowling. He spoke about over his fifty years he has seen times in which as a society things were at a heightened divisions and after 2-3 frames people who are from different backgrounds start slapping fives and enjoying each other’s company over a beer and snacks. As I turned around to look at the bowling alley, which was packed with at least 100 bowlers of all different races, ages, and genders, I saw what he had seen the last 50 years. People enjoying themselves with those on the lanes even lending helping hands of encouragement and advice when things were not going so great for a fellow bowler. Another tool we can all take with us from the bowling alley and execute in our everyday lives.
Social media, traditional media, and gaming has in some ways put many of us in a complacent mental state. In some situations resulting in feeling that opportunities to progress are not there. We can of course talk about that on so many levels. Bowling is actually a great opportunity that can open doors to places the average person cannot imagine. Starting at the professional level, bowling is still alive and in the process of expanding its exposure. It’s still on local television every Sunday. The Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) has recently signed a new television deal with Fox Sports. The stars of the sport bring a lot to the table as in previous eras. It’s led by Jason Belmonte who is knocking at the door at becoming one of the best to every do it. We still have charismatic bowlers in a guy named Kyle Troup, who is also one of the top bowlers in the world. Versatility is abound with the Tang brothers (Michael and Darren) and Gary Faulkner Jr. There is also tremendous international flavor with Jason Belmonte (Australia) and Jesper Svensson (Sweden). The bowlers get the travel the world to compete on the PBA tour. Of course the reward for winning is prize money. As exposure of the sport increases so will the prize money. Earlier in the year, I watched pro basketball player Chris Paul’s annual charity bowling tournament televised on national television. He has held the tournament for 10 years and has gotten stars from various sports and the entertainment industry to compete along with the Pros. Although I watched on television you can feel the camaraderie of the individuals competing. There are a few stand outs from other sports who are outstanding bowlers—Mookie Betts (baseball) and Terrell Owens (former football player) were quite skilled in throwing the ball. On this year’s CP3 tournament, there was a real standout that embodies opportunity and all the things bowling has to offer. It was a young lady by the name of Gazmine Mason (aka GG). GG will be part of the Mental Conditioning Sports highlighted athlete series. She is a rising bowler who is bringing attention to the sport in multiple ways. She is contributing to the resurgence of the sport. GG sees the importance of the sport and the opportunities it can bring. Surprisingly, bowling is not an Olympic sport. She is actively making a push to make bowling a future Olympic sport. I believe that will bring great exposure to bowling. The average person does not understand or get a chance to see the high level of competitiveness of a high talent bowling match. That competition brings on an element of excitement that can rival some of the more obvious popular sports. I’ve personally have bowled in a league so I do have a sense of understanding of that excitement during competitive play.
I’ve seen a few things up close recently that have encouraged me as to the possibilities of a resurgence and big advancement of bowling. I had the opportunity to attend a few high school tournaments in New York City. One of the schools I have been following is La Salle Academy. La Salle has won the city championships taking both the JV and Varsity titles. In attending their regular season games and into the playoffs the excitement in the bowling alley was electric. The talent at the high school level was staggering. The anticipation of some of the top high school bowlers stepping on the lane to throw their shots rival the climatic moments involving other sports. You can see cell phone cameras recording and pictures being taken as top high school bowlers throw the ball down the lane. As I observed the youngsters focus it was quite refreshing to see the obvious work they are putting in to get better. I further had an opportunity to see La Salle Academy practice under the leadership and tutelage of Coach Ronald Anderson and Assistant Coach Teresa Ann Falcon. Once again it was quite encouraging to see the hard work, dedication, commitment these young high school bowlers are putting in. bowling skills are being crafted as well as life progression skills which building mental muscle. The camaraderie amongst the teammates for a common goal was also on display in practice. Which translates to bowling competitions and in La Salle’s case—Championships.
So with the youth in place and growing and the increased exposure on national television of the Pro game, there is reason to be excited about the future of bowling. The qualities that bowling brings as a sport are still fully intact along with advancement of equipment, lane conditions, and even actual techniques of throwing the ball. We have seen two-handed bowler emerge in recent years. Providing new things to catch the eyes of on-lookers is always something beneficial. All this exposure brings us back to the real essence of bowling. Good old fashioned fun is the true character of the sport. After watching young high school players tear up the lanes with impressive growing skills and the top bowler in the world, Jason Belmonte, remain dominant it makes you want to immediately go out to your local bowling alley and bowl. Once you get there, you will get your dose of reality that bowling requires a great deal of practice, thinking, adjusting, and patience. However, the biggest dose of reality is that from the time you are in the bowling alley on those lanes the fun you will have is a classic past time that is destines to return.