Tuesday, November 15, 2016
The End of an Era
The End of an Era
No, this is not a political post, this is a different era.
Bowling as we or at least I know it is over.
Years ago, bowling was little 5-10 lane establishments where cigar smoking, heavy drinking men bowled for fun and money. It was a hustler’s game much like the old smoke filled pool halls. At least that is how was told it used to be. There were no pin machines, pin boys cleared the lane, set the pins and returned the balls.
When automatic pin setters were invented the makers opened new large well-lit bowling facilities. You either bowled at a Brunswick or AMF facility. The new lanes attracted young bowlers, families, date nighters and leagues.
Leagues were the life blood of the new bowling establishments. They guaranteed customers at all hours and on all days. Leagues were the bread and butter while open bowling paid the bills on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Bowling boomed in popularity in the sixties. Sometime in the nineties, lanes added bumpers. Bumpers kept the ball from slipping into the gutter and guaranteed hitting some pins. When I first saw bumpers, I thought they would ruin the game. Sure, the bumpers were just for the kids and they made every throw fun for four and five year old’s who otherwise would seldom hit anything but the gutter.
Bumpers saved the little children’s self-esteem, but they also stopped them from learning to bowl. Less and less young people continued bowling. Many Establishments went out of business. Birthday parties helped bring in revenue, but I think that fad got tiring. Leagues remained the life blood of bowling, but with less young people taking up the sport, and old people doing what old people eventually do, filling the leagues became more and more difficult.
I had been in a league for about fifteen years. Once a week from September to May I bowled, with a few other trips to the alleys to practice. Last year I was told the league may close. What! How were they going to make money without leagues, open bowling was not flourishing? Surely our establishment was not going out of business, it has 80 some alleys and has the best maintained lanes in the state. Every year they held a big professional tournament, often the PBA Open Championship.
Today I saw this:
Welcome to Bowlero — the bowling/dining/nightlife lovechild that’s bringing old school swagger and a new kind of cool to everyone in Middlesex County.
Bowling as I know it is gone. These lanes are aiming for non-serious bowlers who will primarily party, eat fancy food, and drink expensive drinks. There will be loud music and music videos at the end of each lane. Real bowlers, leagues bowlers are not wanted or welcome. It is a new game, it is not even a game, it is now a distraction and an excuse to eat drink and be merry.
Personally, I don’t think the new format will last very long and will not be successful. I do not wish them ill will, they are not killing the bowling I knew, the bowling I knew simply got old and died, they are trying to resuscitate and reinvent it.
Times change, shit happens. I will miss my league bowling. It is the end of an era.
And I was finally learning how to make the ten-pin spare.