Alaina Burris
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A Common Misconception

Is bowling truly a sport?

For as long as I can remember, I have "lived" in a bowling alley. I know the ins and outs of how a bowling alley works, from how to work the computers to knowing exactly what goes on inside the pinsetter, in every bowling alley I have ever been to. 

I grew up bowling, I was practically forced to. My parents worked at a bowling alley, so I was there all the time. I learned to put up with it and eventually, I became pretty good at it. I had, and still do have, quite the arsenal. I carry them everywhere with me pretty much, so that way I'm always prepared if I'd like to go to the bowling alley. 

I've gotten used to the looks that I receive when I'm bowling by myself, surrounded by people who attend the bowling alley for recreational fun. I've gotten used to little kids saying to their parents, "Wow she's good." I've gotten used to knowing an array of employees from all different bowling alleys. It's just something I've gotten used to. 

Sadly, another thing I've gotten used to, is the mindset that people have that bowling is not a real sport. When I am asked what sport I play, and I respond with bowling, I usually get the response of a laugh, followed by, "That's not a real sport." 

I've heard that from random people at bowling alleys, potential boyfriends, some friends, as well as classmates. I'm no stranger to the phrase, but I don't understand why it is a common thought among people.

I have asked people why they think that bowling isn't a sport, and here are a few responses I've gotten:
  • "It's just walking and throwing a ball!"
  • "You sit down constantly, you aren't being very active."
  • "It's recreational! Anybody can do it!"
  • "It's not featured in the Olympics so there's no way it's a sport."
  • "It's not hard enough to be a real sport." 

I understand all of these reasons, but I do have rebuttals, just like other bowlers do. 

Bowling is a professional sport. Many people dedicate a good portion of their lives to improving themselves to get to the professional level, as well as spending a lot of their own money to get to that point in their career. Bowling is not featured in the Olympics, that is correct, but neither is American football or baseball, yet both are still considered a very popular and in-demand sport. 

Bowling is a lot of sitting down, yes. However, the length from the foul line to the back of the pin deck is slightly over 62 feet. That does not count from behind the approach to the foul line, so the distance you are actually moving. But in that moving distance, you are generating enough strength to get a bowling ball down that 62 feet. Many people don't believe this is difficult, and no, it isn't, if your ball goes straight into the gutter. But many bowlers have techniques in order to get their ball to stay on the lane, determine the speed, and be able to hook their ball across the lane. These techniques take months, sometimes years, to be able to master, so they aren't exactly the easiest for first time, or recreational, bowlers to be able to do. That is why you don't see random people bowling perfect 300s, but the people that have worked hard to be able to achieve that score. So, it is, in fact, a hard sport. 

Bowling balls also vary in weight from 6 pounds to 16 pounds. Most professional bowlers throw balls on the heavier side, using between 13-15 pound balls on average. The approach one typically uses is four steps, starting at the back of the approach and getting to the foul line. So one must maintain their balance while generating the strength needed to get the ball down the lane, which is rather difficult for most who are not used to it. 

I do understand why people would not believe that bowling is a sport, but as a bowler, I do believe it is a sport, as do many other bowlers. Even after reading this article, I do believe that many people will still not support bowling being a sport. But I hope that for some of you, it has changed your mind!