December 11, 2013, - 2:51 pm

The End of Bowling – Glad It’s Over, But Sad bc It Symbolizes America’s Manufacturing Death

By Debbie Schlussel

I could tell a long time ago that the game, er . . . “sport” of bowling was dying. I knew it because, over the years, a lot of bowling alleys in my area have shut their doors. Last year, AMF Bowling–the largest chain of bowling alleys in America–filed for bankruptcy. And you never hear about kids having bowling alley birthday parties anymore. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal made my observations official. The paper reports that bowling went from nine million Americans in 1980 down to two million–and dwindling–today who participate regularly in the game. And I’m not too disappointed. I hate bowling.


It’s not that I like to see American businesses close–even if they are bowling alleys or bowling magazines or bowling products and services providers. Those are jobs for Americans that won’t be farmed out to some call center in Mumbai. They’re American jobs that disappear, and it’s sad whenever that happens. But I just hate the sport–and how can you call this game which takes no athleticism (and is populated by mostly fat people) a sport? When I was a kid, my friends and I all had bowling birthday parties. (If it wasn’t that, it was roller skating rink birthday parties.) And I hated it, but I went along with it because I was only a kid, and that was the fallback venue parents chose for parties: a bowling alley. And I was not a spoiled kid. I was happy that my parents took the time and effort to put together a birthday party for me because I knew it took work and not all the parents could afford to do this for their kids.

But that doesn’t take away from the fact that I hate bowling. I hate it because I’m not good at bowling. It’s boring. It’s dirty–the rented creepy shoes filled with everyone before you’s athletes foot or other maladies, the dirty balls covered in oil and dirt from rolling around, the dirty three holes in the ball. And there is no variation in the game. All you do–each time–is throw a ball down an aisle to hit pins. After a few times, it gets old.

I like to think I’m not a snob, but if there’s any area in which I am–and in which snobbery is vastly underrated–it’s bowling. The kind of people you think of going bowling are some overweight, grubby lowlifes you see on a movie screen. I think of that Lebowski guy. You know what I’m talking about. Plus I’m reminded of that creepy, horrifying movie starring Woody Harrelson. After that, I never wanted to see a bowling ball again. If I had my way, the Islamic terrorists at Gitmo would be sentenced to bowl every waking hour. There ain’t no torture like that. Well, yeah, I know there is plenty of torture far worse. But you get my point.

On the other hand, I’m sad about what the death of bowling in America also symbolizes. Bowling was–and remains–primarily a blue collar pastime, especially in red state middle America. (I don’t have the stats to prove it, but it’s safe to say that bowlers are more likely to vote Republican and probably much more conservative than non-bowlers.) It’s really the domain of the working class, despite the number of yuppie and hipster bowling-alley-slash-bar hangouts in New York and L.A. And in the ’80s, when the auto industry and other manufacturing arenas were strong in America–and there were far more manufacturing jobs with good pay–the working class auto-workers and their plumbers and so on had money and time to spend, and they occupied it with bowling.

In this era of Obamacare-induced part-time jobs and increased premiums and deductibles–if you are even lucky enough to have a job–there is no time or extra money for bowling. And there are few manufacturing jobs. Those went away with the bowlers and bowling alleys and bowling magazines. And the working-class life under Obama is a lot less leisurely and far more difficult in 2013 Obama America. Yes, some of bowling’s loss was videogaming’s and Facebook’s and Twitter’s gain, too. When bowling was big, there was no internet for socializing, and cable TV had only just begun.

The WSJ report wasn’t actually on bowling. It was about the only surviving national bowling magazine in America, Bowlers Journal International, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. But, while it survives, all of the other magazines in this case of two dying industries–print magazines and bowling–are now gone. And it’s a symbol of the rigor mortis that appears to have being to set in on the struggling American pastime.

From the ’60s into the ’80s, bowling journalism thrived. Major newspapers employed full-time bowling correspondents. Several different organizations represented bowling writers. On network television, bowling became a fixture. “There were times when bowling was up against the Winter Olympics, and bowling did better,” says Tom Clark, Professional Bowlers Association commissioner.

As competitive bowling plummeted from favor—a victim partly of league play’s heavy time requirements—the sport all but disappeared from network television and newspaper columns. The various writers’ groups merged into one, called the International Bowling Media Association. Bowling publications began folding.

I will be sad about one other thing–though–that comes with the end of bowling in America. Whenever liberals wanted to give gazillions in taxpayer grants to this dumb museum or that stupid non-profit organization of lesbian Muslim Q-tip lint loomers, I would always say, “Well, more Americans go bowling than visit museums, so why don’t we throw money at America’s bowling alleys?” Now, I can’t say that anymore.

And, even worse, someone might get the bad idea of a Bowling Alley Bailout. Heck, they’ve bailed everyone else out.

But I won’t be sad when bowling is gone forever. And that means you, too, bocce ball.


So, am I wrong about bowling? Too snobby? Do you like bowling? Are you sad to see bowling dying in America? Why?

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58 Responses

I like bowling – it’s a good family activity and it’s also a social event.

David on December 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Well, I read what you said and I totally disagree with the game of bowling. I guess one can say the shoes are hard to ware and the bowling ally bowls are dirty and old looking. But, they are used to just get a feel for the game. There is so much technology in bowling. The lanes are oiled with many different patterns and your personal bowling balls are drilled in ways that make them curve differently. People who bowl, love it and it goes into their hearts. Once a bowler always a bowler too. I’ve been bowling for over 50 years and have carried an average of 220 once in a league and it takes a lot of practice and skill to get to any level of good bowling. It’s like any sport. One has to put their dues into it. It is a very challenging game and you need endurance in order to bowl those 10 or 15 game blocks if you bowl in tournaments. Anyway, it’s not for you Debbie and that’s OK. Try golf! You probably will feel the same way about that sport too. Many bowlers are also golfers, lol. BTW, Merry Christmas to y’all!

    Steve on December 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm

      Hummuna, hummuna, hummuna, . . .

      you carried an AVERAGE OF 220!???!?!?!!!!???!!!!

      WHY DIDN’T YOU TURN PRO, BRO?!?!?!!!!!!??!!!

      Nawtin!!! Nawtin!!! C’mon down, I wanna show ya sumthin’!!!

      Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 12, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Question is, will ESPN continue to be airing Bowling games in the spring months when College Basketball season is over? As you explained DS, bowling here in the US is declining regard with popularity, etc.

“A nation is defined by its borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on December 11, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    …and what you know about bowling bowl head ? Im gonna git you sucka soon…

    friendly 999 reaper on December 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Hi Debbie

I actually like bowling, even though I’m about average at it. My boys are very good, and sometimes will go bowling with friends. They don’t do it all the time, but occasionally. And when they were little they seemed to enjoy the bowling alley birthday parties. Even if you’re not good at it, if you go in with a good attitude and enjoy some of the hilarity that can ensue from throwing a heavy ball down a polished wooden lane at 10 pins, then you can have fun. Beer helps if it’s all adults. It’s definitely a middle class sport, but that’s not a bad thing. The lanes near us that are successful have blended bowling with a sports bar and kids’ game room, and in another location it’s a bowling alley/restaurant/movie theater. It’s a shame that’s it’s another passtime that’s passing away.

Sean M on December 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

As a child, I loved bowling, mainly because it was an opportunity to get together with lots of friends and to root for one another. I’ve always looked at bowling as a very social sport and, for me, that made it very appealing. And yes, bowling is a sport and requires conditioning, training, and practice to be good. But you know what? You don’t even have to be good to enjoy bowling. The point is the try your best.

However, the socioeconomics of bowling have changed dramatically over the years. Back in the 1960s, bowling was predominantly a blue-collar sport and bowling leagues were a critical part of the business.

Now, the market has shifted to white-collar and professional participants, including familites with children. These changes occurred for a variety of reasons, but the bowling alleys for the most part haven’t changed with the times. Thus, bowling lanes stuck in the snack bar or concession paradigm have been big losers. The successful centers take food and beverage very seriously by featuring a destination restaurant with more quality offerings.

Ralph Adamo on December 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm

In the 60’s I was bowling or playing pin ball machines. There really wasn’t much else to do. We had 3 tv channels and my gosh I must of watched Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,a million times. We went to roller skating rings on weekends. We did not worry about bowling shoes or skates for we bought our own . I watched bowling on TV zillion times. Public Swimming pools were the go to place in the summer.I appreciate that time period. We were not stuck in our homes staying on a computer all the time or cell phones.I would say the 60’s kept me active and we used what was made available to us. In the 60’s riding bikes was a way of life, that took us to places we wanted to go. I’d rather have that period of time as oppose to what kids have available to them today.A lot times at skating rings we would not skate but play the pin ball machines,trying to receive enough points for a free game. The music back then was 100% better than what kids today have.Thats my take on it.

Steve on December 11, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    You are so right. I grew up a little later but my memory is the same as yours. Those were the days. When we were off from school life slowed down and days lasted forever.

    We played board games when it rained. Went to skating rinks and ice skating inside and out. Played every team sport all day long. Swam all the time.

    The kids today are lazy and only concerned with phones and computers. In my day was rare for a kid to be fat. We ate everything and anything, yet burned it all off from always being active. Obese kids and diabetes were rare.

    Glen benjamin on December 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm

I hate bowling too, but look how pinball went out of style.
That’s where I spent my free time as a kid, lucky to have lived in the time of great machines [the 60’s]..

Jesse on December 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    Remember pin ball machines you played back then had the red light specials in the game once you reahed enough points. .Hit that red light and a free games would be given on the spot.. The TV shows were 100 % better too.Not like the garbage today.Still remember Joe Friday… 1 Adam 12

    Steve on December 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

I’m not so happy to see the reverses that bowling has endured.

There is one other major demographic group in the U.S. that enjoys bowling, i.e. older people, or senior citizens. It is an activity/sport that does not require very much exertion, and enables older people to socialize, often in pleasant surrounds, as some of the suburban alleys (lanes) were really quite nice.

Bowling has been on the skids for quite a while, and has relied on gimmicks for quite some time. Flashing lights on the alleys, with loud music, and doctoring up the bowling balls and alleys so that scores could be increased.

Granted there are sanitary issues, but anyone who bowled frequently usually purchased their own ball & shoes, for a cost frequently under $200, much less than the costs for other sports.

It was also an activity that social organizations could put together, a way to just sit around and talk with a loosely structured theme.

So one less activity for seniors.

Little Al on December 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I take no joy in seeing bowling vanish. It may not have been an activity for the upper-middle class and above, but it provided an outlet for those beneath. The loss of bowling may seem to be quite trifling a matter to some, but to those who participated in leagues or simply teamed up with friends it meant something.

Worry01 on December 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Ha, Debbie, we found something we can agree on! But all my B-day and other parties were held at home and my Dad did quite a spectacular effort on the decorations. For my 8th, he made a big Eight ball out of corrugated paper and that was minor. One Halloween, he got some orange fabric and covered a huge set of windows in our dining room and then painted a gorgeous haunted farmyard scene on it. I grew to hate Halloween but that was spectacular and we had it for years. He was so talented. There were always birthdays, Valentines and Halloween parties for me and my friends at home, and we had fun! I went bowling once and hated it.

Meira on December 11, 2013 at 4:39 pm

the dude is not amused

Frankz on December 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I love to bowl. The sport has climbed in price, which is why a lot of “blue collar” workers were priced out of the game.

The game is wholesome, no one took steroids to win, betting was minimal, and yes, there was exercise involved.

The game is also about physics. Master the game, and you have mastered some physics. Bowling also made a great date night.

It is nothing short of a tragedy that the game is dying in America. Another part of wholesome America down the tubes.

If you are happy about the death of bowling Debbie, I will remind you of what is taking its place…mindless video games, twerking, young tweens having sex, television watching, drugs, etc.

JEG: While the decline of bowling happened at the same time that most of the behaviors you cite rose, I don’t think you can prove a correlation. At this time, BTW, television viewing is going down (thanks to the internet). I did mention the video games correlation in the post, and I think that’s valid . . . a little bit. However, you would have to prove that the young age group in which these behaviors are rampant (and you mention tweens for one of the behaviors) was a significant segment among bowlers at the time bowling began declining, and I don’t think that was the case. Bowlers tend to be an older demo. DS

Jonathan E. Grant on December 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm

it’s kind of fun on the odd occasion with a few drinks. sad really

Frankz on December 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Bowling’s not necessarily a useless sport just because there’s little exertion. Look at archery, golf, and that Canadian game where they slide a rock s l o w l y down some ice while other Canadians sweep in front of it are a few that come to mind.

I do agree with you about the shoes, never thought about the finger holes.

And it is getting prohibitively expensive for families like ours on a budget. We used to take the kids bowling a couple of times per year, but since Obama, gas has doubled in price, electric and water have tripled, food has crept up by about 40% and I’m bracing myself for ’14 and what he’s going to do to federal taxes of middle class homeowners.

DS_ROCKS! on December 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm

You’re way off base here, Debbie. A tournament usually consists of 42-56 games within a two or three day period throwing a 15 or 16 pound ball. You don’t see any of the best PBA male bowlers who are not in great shape. I can only think of one top female bowler who is overweight. Bowling is good clean fun for young people and many have bowling parties.

NormCBS on December 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm

I’m guessing everybody has a sport they don’t like, that they think sucks. It’s human nature. And, if you want to justify hatred of it (Which isn’t really necessary, hate what you want)or even promote hatred of it (Which you are not trying to do) keep thinking of it and talking about it in connection with fat people, especially fat, middle aged white men. Because that is one group of people we are allowed to hate and ridicule.
I think the economy has a lot to do with the decline of bowling and the closure of bowling alleys. People get laid off or fired, or have to take lower paying jobs, or go on welfare, they don’t have the money to go bowling any more. Especially at bowling alleys who have had to raise their prices, mainly due to increased overhead, which includes higher heat, light and air conditioning bills, government regulations and taxes and numerous other expenses. Add in the fact that so many people would rather spend so much of their time with their face in an electronic device instead of actually doing something. And, I don’t think immigrants from places like Mexico, the middle east or Africa even know what bowling is.
BTW, bowlers don’t all use the balls and shoes provided by the bowling alley, People who are into it purchase their own equipment and take it with them to the bowling alley.
But, hey, if we have more Muslim immigration into the U.S., maybe the sport will be revived, only using people’s heads. After all, a head (mind) is a terrible thing to waste.

RT on December 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm

I love bowling (if only for acceptably introducing the concept of Shabbos to the world). 🙂

JooTube on December 11, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Bowling doesn’t require athleticism but it does require a bit a coordination.

Where else these days, or the last time I went, can people smoke – OMG !!! – cigarettes and drink beer and and try to score points and have a good time?

Grand Theft Auto with headphones to talk back and forth with other players just isn’t the same.

Ruckus_Tom on December 11, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Debbie, you coughed up a lot of stereotypes which were not typical of bowling in its heyday. You’re about 10-15 years too young to have grasped fully the realm of bowling. You grasped a lot, but you swung and missed at a few pitches. Other people have stated, and will probably state more, some of the things I could have brought up.

I did a lot of bowling with my first wife and some others in a very brief period of time in late ’75, early ’76. Used to watch Earl Anthony, Johnny Petraglia, Dave Soutar, Mark Roth and Co. on TV back then, too. Worked for the largest savings bank in NYC which was part of the Savings Bank Bowling League. I wasn’t in the league, but that’s how I got hooked, from having so many friends in it. Never bowled again except for once with some friends many years later. I still think it’s a great sport, and a lot of other nice things, which others have said.

Debbie hates bowling. That’s cool with me. I still love Debbie, very, very much.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 11, 2013 at 10:02 pm

>>So, am I wrong about bowling? Too snobby?<<

Yes. Bowling's fine and I plan to introduce my kids to it soon.

You might be bad, but you're probably not Obama bad. Obama infamously called his bowling effort "like Special Olympics."

I remember watching Fred Flintstone bowling. I remember the bowling alley at New York City's Port Authority. Richard Nixon built a bowling alley in the White House. There was a bowling alley in my college's Student Union.

Bowling has a long history in New York City. There is even a bowling split called the "Brooklyn."

It's been a long time since I last went bowling. There are many other entertainments these days–playing with an electronic device for hours, for example. Bowling's OK and the same as it's ever been.

I don't understand Debbie's hatred for the sport and I certainly didn't see this coming.

Now, if you really wanna talk least favorite (and dangerous) sports, there's always skiing.

Barry Popik on December 11, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I also love bowling so I also disagree with Debbie here. I have never bowled in a league, but only for fun. I bowl occasionally. I’m not too good at it myself either–I bowl somewhere between 70 and 100 per game.

Debbie raises a good point, but I believe that I have an answer for it:

“[Bowling is] dirty–the rented creepy shoes filled with everyone before you’s athletes foot or other maladies, the dirty balls covered in oil and dirt from rolling around, the dirty three holes in the ball.”

Concerning the hands, it’s easy for me to answer. One should occasionally either use hand sanitizer, and/or wash hands, and in between don’t touch one’s nose or mouth. The part about the shoes is admittedly a tough one but the best that I can say about that is that after returning home, one should change their socks and wash their feet. I haven’t got sick from bowling yet (thank G-d).

Nonetheless, I echo Alfredo from Puerto Rico when he wrote:

“Debbie hates bowling. That’s cool with me. I still love Debbie, very, very much.”


JeffE on December 11, 2013 at 11:52 pm

“I don’t understand Debbie’s hatred for the sport and I certainly didn’t see this coming.”

I didn’t ether Berry. In fact, I’m actually hurt by what she said. Bowling holds a special place in my heart. Not only was it the first sport I’ve ever been exposed to, but I’ve had memories from being in bowling alleys. The two I must remember was from elementary school, where I was the only student to get a strike. The other was last decade with a friend with some old school rock music playing.

I also used to watch bowling A LOT on ABC saturday afternoons. I even had a toy bowling set and even imitated the moves I saw on TV. I guess you could say, I could’ve been destined to be a professional bowler when I grew up.

But boy how things change when you get older. Here I am in 2013 working in a state-owned building cleaning bathrooms and making peanuts. Yet my love for bowling remains.

Now I find out that AMF is about to go out of business, and Debbie pretty much craps on the sport saying it’s dead when it’s not…completely…dead.

I have nothing more to say.

Squirrel3D on December 12, 2013 at 3:17 am

Sounds like some other folks around here remember The Golden Age Of Bowling pretty much as I did. I actually learned bowling technique from watching it on TV Saturday afternoons. From what I learned I was once able to make the hardest split in bowling, forget the name of it, where there are two pins left on the opposite sides, and you make the one on the right go all the way over to the left and knock that one out, too.

I quickly developed a 140 average without any training or experience, but I hung out with league bowlers whose average went as high as 180. My highest score ever was 234, and the most consecutive strikes I ever had was in a 213, where I strung together six.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 12, 2013 at 8:04 am

I don’t hate bowling, because It is a challenge to me. I didn’t read mention of the last time you actually participated in a game (Aside from the moans about dirt and oil). Am I mistaken, or does it seem like someone had a bad experience. Why don’t you try again to go bowling? I do see that it’s easy to throw the word hate around these days, but to say that you “hate bowling” it just sounds like an ill commentary. I’m not defending the atmosphere at the bowl (the gambling,drinking,loud music,and laser beams being shot into my eyes as I try to mentally and physically execute the best shot that I know I can) but that is why the place is still open anyway on a Tuesday night at 1:30AM, It’s jam packed! So I suppose that one would find bowling a little dull if you were not willing to put forth your best effort into the many activitys happening around a good bowling alley. But maybe the only thing you really “hate” is the experience you gave yourself. I would love to bowl a game or two with you if you were ever interested????. We can bring tons of hand sanitizer and just focus on bettering ourselves for a little while.

Mika on December 12, 2013 at 8:11 am

    Mika, have some peanuts.

    skzion on December 13, 2013 at 10:09 am

Debbie doesn’t have to like bowling, and her complaints about the shoes and balls are valid. There are people who don’t like mangoes in this world. I don’t really “get” that, but that’s their business. That just means more for my cousin and I, his horses, and other family members.

I actually think it’s rather amusing that Debbie is jumping up and down on the lid of the casket that bowling is being packed in to. She’s cute the way she describes certain things. She’s not going to close that lid with her column here. If the lid closes, and the casket is pushed off the plank in to the murky waters of what’s left of “this once great republic,” it will be because of what she said in her headline. That pretty much says it all.

America will have killed bowling all by itself, without any help from our fearless leader. Just as everything else that was ever good about this nation. We killed it.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 12, 2013 at 8:42 am

    Whoa whoa alfredo… The mangoe? Before you go off on a tangent, nevermind anything I said, because I didn’t even know who this lady running her mouth is until after I wrote my opinion then I looked at her bio and what she stood for (for which im still not clear on) But apparently she talks a gang of shit about things she doesn’t know anything about (like bowling) Because the thing that Deborah should be aware of, or failed to mention is competitive bowling is a worldwide activity and that there are so many organizations throughout asia, europe, the americas and dare I say the middle east.. So what my point is that as long as there is a interested culture in the states, bowling will remain a activity to partake in. Maybe not so much in the states without that culture (i.e. debs world) but there are still ncaa school programs with scholarships especially in the midwest (though not enough of them) that will continue to grow sport and therefore grow recreational bowling. You may have to drive further to get there ,but the love for the lanes remains and hopefully the kids in these schools are taking management courses so they will be able to one day successfully open and manage a bowling center. Glamorous sounding I know but it’s a more fruitful goal than spending your life in the gutter. By the way, Debbie is a undercover bowler.

    Mika on December 12, 2013 at 9:53 am

      So? I have no problem with anything you said. As a matter of fact, I hope that bowling really IS thriving the way you said. And I didn’t accuse you of anything either, so unless you were trying to stop one of my cousins horses from heading over to the general store near the farm without permission, I don’t see the “whoa, whoa” thingy. I didn’t lash out at you, just offered a little conversation about Debbie’s take on things, that’s all.

      I’m pretty much an infant myself around here, still fitting in after 11 months.

      As for Debbie being “in the closet” about bowling, got any pictures? That would be fun. LOL!!!

      Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 12, 2013 at 10:06 am

It’s 30 degrees outside today. The wind chill is going to 15 degrees. There is snow on the ground. My four-year-old says that he wants to go to the park.

He’s not going to the park. My kids are not playing baseball, or soccer, or football. They’re not going outside to play basketball or to go swimming.

Bowling’s just fine at a time like this.

Barry Popik on December 12, 2013 at 9:28 am

Yup, it’s a great day to go bowling. And lest anyone think bowling can’t really wear you out, sure, it’s nothing like the bodybuilding workouts I used to go through, or the work I do on the farm, but try bowling 16 games with one or two other people. My first wife and I used to go to the Parkway alleys in the South Bronx at about 10 p.m. and bowl until 3 a.m. Not a workout, but not easy, LOL!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 12, 2013 at 9:43 am

As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.

Mika on December 12, 2013 at 10:20 am

Eh? Even with all the farm work I’ve done, not sure what that means. Well, kinda sorta, but I’m The Resident Dumb Blond(e), always need to have things spelled out for me, LOL!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 12, 2013 at 10:25 am

Bowling’s not a sport? It’s more than a sport. It’s the ultimate challenge. ONE man. ONE ball. TEN pins.

(It’s not often that I get to quote the eighties classic “Just One of the Guys.”)

Ari Mendelson on December 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm

I love bowling and enjoy watching pros on TV once in a while. Nothing I loved more than on a winter weekend then going bowling. With friends and some slices of pizza made for a great outing.

The kids today do not go but like to sit on their butts. I went so often I had my own ball with my name on it. It also was a great way to socialize. Then again I was always playing games growing up. We had no time to get fat.

P.S. The places I bowled were quite well maintained. However, many have closed with only two places near me in suburban NY.

Glen benjamin on December 12, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Although Brunswick seems to be doing OK — clean, upscale bowling alleys in nice areas, in & around major cities (also with video games, food in many of them, etc.) and bowling equipment.

Little Al on December 12, 2013 at 1:17 pm

In the 50’s, when I was a kid, bowling alleys and pool halls both were “bad”. There used to be 9 alleys in the area, now only three remain, with the parking lots not as full as used to be.

codekeyguy on December 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Miss Debbie, not everyone liked bowling. It’s a interest, not snobby to dislike it. It was/is a sport that all ages liked. It was/is a “manly” game to men. I guess the wimpy-feminest-type are glad the sport is dying. Competiveness and slamming the pins down would make the wimps cringe. To bad, but some allys were not kept up as they should.
I hadn’t been in years, but I still like it. Never bowled in my life until I was in the military years ago and for what it’s worth, I bowled a 100 my first game. Not bad for a boy who grew up in the mountains of Kentucky.

William on December 12, 2013 at 6:21 pm

We tend to be bored by or dislike things we are not good at, especially if we are good at a lot of things.

Me, I’m not very good at bowling, but it brings back enough memories that I have been thinking for a while of working at it enough to become good at it. I don’t think it’s all that repetitive either. At a very high level, even the slightest imprecision leads to catastrophe.

Also, some of the best pizza I ever ate was at a bowling alley.

skzion on December 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I am heartbroken to find out you hate bowling Deb. All the best bowlers when I was a kid were Jews. No idea why..Where else can you be good at a sport, be bald and fat, drink beer and spend and evening with your buddies?

#1 VATO on December 12, 2013 at 10:13 pm

I like bowling. It is a game of Newtonian physics and that rates highly with me.

There is NO Santa Claus on December 12, 2013 at 11:49 pm

This where I come in and say that I disagree with Debbie with regards to bowling.

Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean that you have to hate.

Bowling, like darts, is deceptively simple and requires quite a bit of hand-eye co-ordination.

There is also a discipline that is a must in order every ball tossed a strike.

You virtually use almost every single muscle group in your body to control the ball. Every strategy is more-or-less planned out: the approach; the release; the follow-through. You must be one with the ball. And by extension, you must use the lane to your advantage.

As a confirmed hater, I thought that I would suck at 10-pin until I went into an addiction treatment program and realized that it just took a few misses before I fell into a comfortable groove where almost every release resulted in a strike.

Do not be afraid of any challenge. What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger, even if your body will hate you back the morning-after.

I say we bring back bowling and revel in the Zen of control and domination.

And while we’re at it, let’s bring back pinball as well – the original anger management machine.

The Reverend Jacques on December 13, 2013 at 12:52 am

I grew up loving bowling. I was in kids leagues on Saturday mornings (I didn’t keep the Sabbath until many years later) and I always had a great time. I even won the state tournament for singles and all events in 1973. I LOVED to watch Earl Anthony throw his sweeping left handed hook.

However, when I got older and was married, I didn’t have the time to devote to the leagues that they demanded (which was mentioned earlier). While I was a “great bowler,” I realized that was rather a pathetic activity over which to gloat. It was as glorious an achievement as being a great solitaire player. I haven’t bowled in a couple decades. I had no interest in bowling after I found out that I could no longer enjoy one of my cigars while doing so.

I especially have no interest in bowling since I discovered GOLF!! Golf, cigars, and beer (and I walk for the exercise). Life is good!

PDMac60 on December 13, 2013 at 10:40 am

Interesting, PDMac60, I’m a cigar smoker as well. My 13 1/2 years of posting on the internet began on the Cigar Aficionado web site, and progressed elsewhere, ending in early January, at which time I was already getting involved here.

I also know that one of the things that sucks about modern America is the opportunity to smoke a cigar during certain pursuits has helped ruin those pursuits for many. It’s not the sole reason, but a part of it.

Such as, taking a nice long walk through various areas of Manhattan, NY. Ya can’t do that anymore. And it’s more than the people who will make it clear to glare at you and cough, even when the wind is taking one’s cigar smoke AWAY from them. There are smoke free zones outdoors in NYC nowadays, thanks to “Uncle Mike” and Co. You could be passing an office building plaza which has such a designation, and while in that zone, be stopped and issued a summons for breaking the smoke free LAWS.

Or walking through Central Park. Now, that’s one of the best places I can think of, and have on many occasions, to take a walk and smoke a cigar. But if you did it today, you’d be cited. And DON’T mouth off to the cop, or you WILL get yo’ ass in a holding cell with some gentlemen from Sigma Banga Butta.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 13, 2013 at 10:59 am

speaking of decay, your hometown is not looking so good Debbie.

ender on December 13, 2013 at 11:16 pm

Very perceptive. She’s already on the case. There’s plenty in the archives which speaks to Debbie’s noting of that fact.

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 13, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Alfredo! A cigar man! That is a fellowship like none other. But people who do not appreciate a fine cigar will never understand it. Your descriptions of smoking in New York is reason #2,218 that NYC is a PDMac60 free zone!

PDMac60 on December 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

And I’m glad it is, for your sake. I’ll be getting out myself, flying back home on the 23rd. Been here (NYC area) way too long, but my trip down home will also be my longest ever.

Cigars on the farm, NO other humans around, no laws except for God’s and mine. Unless of course, the cops come looking for something that didn’t happen there. That’s how my grandfather met my grandmother in Puerto Rico, about 100 years ago, LOL!!!

Alfredo from Puerto Rico on December 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

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discount bowling balls on April 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

Hi Debbie,

Thank you for your article and opinion. I’m a 32 year old who has bowled in leagues since I was 10, taking a 2 year break during my university years and I stopped bowling in 2012. I also became a PBA member and bowled in some PBA regional tournaments from 2009-2012.

I’ve always liked bowling and I’m sad to see that the sport is not faring well. By the way, at the top ranks or even at the lower ranks, most bowlers are not overweight and I am not overweight.

I call bowling a sport because the level of difficulty in bowling is greatly increased by how oil is put on the lane. For example, in my leagues I was averaging 212, but in tournaments I was averaging in mid 170s. The best bowlers in the world average 220-230 in those tournament conditions using the same bowling balls, so there is a skill/talent factor in bowling.

I’m sad to see the best bowlers in the world compete for only a $10,000 first place paycheck, but TV revenues and people that watch bowling drive revenues I would think and bowling is not on a main TV network like it used to be on ABC way in the past, so I’m sure this puts a major hurt on bowling.

Nothing much can beat the feeling of getting a perfect strike in bowling 🙂


Michael on June 8, 2014 at 5:07 am

So the author hates bowling! I am a former professional baseball player, Ivy League graduate, Lawyer, and not a very good bowler. I don’t smoke cigars, I am not overweight, and agree that, since I was a kid, I have seen a decline in those who enjoy bowling. Maybe its the cost, may its that our society is changing, maybe its because people like the author of this article think the sport is antiquated. I don’t know.

What I do know is the following. The sport is fun, its social, and it takes incredible talent to excel in – yet anyone can participate and have an enjoyable experience whether they are a child or a person in their 80s.

The sport is in decline. That is obvious. But that is not a reflection on the sport. Its a poor reflection on a society that would rather disengage before the TV set than interact at a bowling alley.

The post is insightful as to the reasons why bowling is in decline. Like most things in America, things are cyclical. Bowling may never get back to its 60s stats. But bowling is not dead. There are too many of us that really enjoy the sport, seeing our friends every week, and relish in the lack of cigar and cigarette smoke the dominate the lanes from years past.

In time the sport will reinvent itself, bowling centers will re-emerge. Personally, I am fascinate with the sport. It may very well be a predominately blue collar sport. But I am not blue collar, and many others like myself have found bowling in the later years of their life and we are so grateful that we did.

Kurt Lundgren on July 25, 2014 at 12:23 am

you don’t understand the fundamentals of bowling it is a mind game and if you don’t consider weight lifting a sport then I guess its not then but you wouldn’t understand because you never played it like we have and whats sad is i have been bowling for 7 years and i’m only 13 and I carrier an average of 170 so its your opinion not a fact

Bhiers on September 13, 2014 at 1:01 am

I grew up in Red State USA as the lone Blue for 500 miles in any direction. My mom had cancer and was frequently in the hospital (`70s). My dad worked blue collar jobs in aerospace manufacturing.

Although he made good money between the co-pays for my mother’s condition and raising the five boys by himself when house-husbands still got snickered at or guys downright picked a fight or brawled over it in a public place – he had no choice but to take my brothers and me to all his blue collar recreational pursuits.

Toastmasters, union meetings/functions football games during the season, baseball basketball hockey soccer and the worst of all – bowling.

I agree 100 percent with the author’s take on the grubby greasy and obnoxious environment and the mostly if not exclusively old fat male and caustic clientele.

Between that and all the smelly fried food stale peanuts and old beer (new beer wasn’t as bad or fresh peanuts but I still retch at the smells) – and nothing to do (remember the only “videogames” were pinball machines and none of em were short enough for a kid to play even if he wanted to) and the only “TV” in the bowling alley was a microwave feed that ran promotions for every activity in the city – the same kind you would see later on with CATV (precursor to cable) – community bulletin boards with the MUZAK background.

In the late spring, summer and fall I’d sleep in the car along with every other bored boy with zero ability and zero interest in acquiring any. In the winter I’d sleep in the cloakroom and as the years progressed, found myself sharing it with more and more boys whose fathers were in the same straits as my own.

I can’t TELL you how glad I was when I turned 10 and my Granddad convinced my father that I was at least old enough to stay at home by myself – although he’d still take the little ones with him inflicting the same damage as me and the older two – who by then (13 and 15) had their own after school and evening lives of their own.

A year later I got allowed to babysit the younger ones (9 and 7) – and I found out later the only reason they did what I told em to when i told em to do it is that i said if they didn’t I’d make them go back to going bowling and to the union hall and etc with Dad.

Especially since bowling alleys were always in seedy neighborhoods anyway next to bars and tattoo parlors and boudoirs and who knows what else – none of which was a fit environment for kids once a YEAR nevermind twice a WEEK. The other boys tried the same argument with their dads and most of the time it flew.

But as the years went on and Dad and his friends started getting used to being left alone and could have their fun and drink and eat as they saw fit and then take the city bus home at night and back downtown in the morning for work and to pick up the car – all these formerly terminally crabby blue collar men would have their attitudes lightened considerably once they could have their fun by themselves w the other guys and leave the kids to do the same.

After which they kept getting complaints from their Dads and their friends – all of whose boys were lobbying equally hard to get left home alone as well – that there was “nobody to leave the sport to.” to which we all recited `no different than classic cars and trains and motorbikes and stamps and coins and AM radios ad infinitum.

So yes I am glad bowling is dead or soon will be along with croquet and shuffleboard etc. Now I’m waiting for cars stamps coins dolls bears trains motorbikes, home repair and other do-it-yourselfers, football baseball hockey soccer skating basketball live concerts etc etc etc to follow suit so we can all be living our lives out as a ball of protoplasm in a beaker, get left alone to our own devices and have more knowledge than God.

jway01 on April 13, 2016 at 1:18 pm

In regards to your writing about bowling: Don’t get me wrong. You are entitled to your opinion. But I actually cringed out of embarrassment for you when you said that that this sport calls for “no athleticism” and is “populated by mostly fat people,” because of how you shamelessly showcased your ignorance. You may hate bowling, but that doesn’t give you a right to spread stereotypes and insult people who have a passion for this sport. Show some respect to people in the bowling community instead of using your blog to celebrate your ignorance.

Gia on June 18, 2016 at 4:10 am

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