by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – So you’ve never bowled in a league? Or you’ve taken a break from a bowling league but want to get back in?
This is a good time to start considering joining a league for the popular thee-month summer season. Bowling coordinators will start mapping plans within the next two months to patch together the requisite number of teams for their leagues.
And space is tight!
With many bowling centers closing or abandoning leagues, bowlers need to inquire early or they may find themselves squeezed out of a spot. Sami Rice, the co-cordinator of the “Guys and Dolls” league at Winnetka Bowl with husband Mike, says that her league is saturated with would-be entrants.
So why bowl in leagues?
Here is a list of 10 reasons to join a bowling league, courtesy of About.com, along with my comments:
1 – The Characters
About.com: League bowling brings out some of the most colorful, interesting, baffling personalities in the world. You have no idea these people are in your community until you join a bowling league. From unbelievably talented bowlers to inexplicably strange humans, you get a cross-section of society you didn’t realize existed.
Fred Eisenhammer: Because there are so many characters, there is absolutely no shortage of individuals to write about. You never know when you encounter a bowling league icon like Ken Borshell among the mix of players. Borshell is someone who for 30 years traveled round-trip more than 200 miles every week just so he could bowl in Los Angeles on the same league team as his good friends. Borshell hit the road from Bakersfield for seven years and then drove from Palm Desert for 23 years. He’s now bowling closer to home.
2 – Camaraderie
About.com: Bowling leagues, especially with your friends (or strangers who will become your friends), are great ways to spend a few hours a week.
Fred Eisenhammer: It’s a great way to make friends, especially for widows and widowers.
3 – Fun
About.com: Whether league bowling or not, it’s fun to bowl.
Fred Eisenhammer: Not only is it fun, but it’s exciting. Recently, anchor man Greg Kolski prepared to bowl in the10th frame of a league game knowing that the match was on the line. Kolski needed a mark to seal the victory for his team. Considering his average was a robust 186, Kolski’s teammates were feeling pretty confident. Then Kolski drilled a pocket shot that inexplicably left the imposing 6-7 split and it was apparent that the bowling gods had intervened to upset the norm. There were no groans from Kolski’s team. It was more like shock. Then Kolski threw his big hook for his second shot, and again it was another huge surprise. He clipped the 6 pin gently on the right side and the pin slid over and barreled into the 7 – an improbable shot that snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
4 – Gambling
About.com: Small-time gambling is acceptable in most bowling leagues. Often, half your league fees go toward your bowling and the other half goes toward the prize fund. At the end of the season, you and your team will receive prize money based on where you finish. Individual prizes are usually up for grabs, too. Other ways to win a pittance during league bowling involve card games and strike pots.
Fred Eisenhammer: It’s not usually a tremendous sum of money that is up for grabs, but bowlers are a competitive group – and even a little money means a lot.
5 – Fitness
About.com: Repeatedly hurling a heavy sphere requires strength and endurance, and you can burn a significant number of calories bowling.
Fred Eisenhammer: Bowling may not be the exercise program prescribed by your doctor, but even a little exercise is better than none.
6 – Pizza
About.com: Never mind you’re counteracting the exercise portion while cutting into your prize fund – it’s delicious.
Fred Eisenhammer: Don’t forget beer for those with an appreciation of that beverage.
7 – Television
About.com: If bowling isn’t enough for you, many bowling alleys have TVs playing whatever most of you want to watch (typically sports). Depending on the time of your league, you can watch entire hockey and baseball games while bowling.
Fred Eisenhammer: Hockey? No thanks. Thumbs-up on football and basketball – and any game involving the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Los Angeles Lakers.
8 – United States Bowling Congress Membership
About.com: You’ll be a part of the USBC, which costs about $20 a year (and is often hidden in your league fees, so you don’t even have to think about it if you don’t want to). Membership qualifies you for awards and gives you discounts with various merchants, including hotels and rental cars.
Fred Eisenhammer: As a USBC member, a bowler is eligible to participate in many tournaments, such as the West Coast Senior Tour, which often has events in the Southland.
9 – Relaxation
About.com: Except on the nights during which you’re bowling so poorly you find yourself doing anything but relaxing, the sport can give you a nice respite from the workday or workweek. Show up, relax, throw a few frames and have fun.
Fred Eisenhammer: Relaxation is nice in theory. Fact is, even a small pot of money at the end of the rainbow creates a competitive environment. And many bowlers feel the tension during the ninth and 10th frames. But competitiveness is a good thing. It’s fun to show that one can come through when the chips are down. A bad thing is when some bowlers resort to gamesmanship – deliberately distracting the other team’s bowlers or “disappearing” so the other team’s players bowl ahead of them in the 10th frame.
10 – Status
About.com: You’ll be amazed by how many people are impressed when they find out you bowl in a league.
Fred Eisenhammer: Perhaps more importantly, bowling in a league could provide a boost to your self-esteem. Your first 200 game, your first 500 series – it shows that you can accomplish things in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and older. It’s no coincidence that some of the most successful people are avid bowlers.