How Bowling Has Changed

For those who have not been to a fancy new bowling alley lately, here is how things have changed.

When I was in high school, we bowled during gym class.  I don’t remember bowling with my family, but apparently they were running a lot more often than I remembered so it is possible that we bowled all the time, too.

I do remember bowling in gym class. We had to do math. We had to understand how to count strikes and spares. We had to use a pencil and paper and someone was always in charge of keeping score (usually me). There were no television screens showing music videos or football, no computers, no cartoon characters advising us exactly where to aim the ball to get all the pins down or celebrating with us when knocked down all of the pins.

Today, there is no math required. Figuring out how to enter everyone’s name in to the computer is the only analytical thinking skill required to bowl today (and it is much more confusing than it should be.)  The computer keeps score for you. The teenagers I was with today had NO idea how much the strike and spare impacted their score.

It is not cheap. It costs two or three times as much to bowl for the same amount of time you would spend in a movie (at least in Times Square in NYC which is probably the most expensive place in the world to go bowling.)

I have seen the fancy computers before and the cartoon characters and the TVs.  Today, I saw two new things in the ever evolving world of bowling.

At Bowlmor in NYC, you can turn on “bumpers” for specific players.  If you use the “bumper” option, gates pop up when it is your turn, blocking off the gutters. They have cool red lights on them like Christmas lights. Its like pinball. The ball just bounces off the bumper instead of going in to the gutter. You can not fail. You will get at least one pin down every time.  Fascinating. If you are five, or a twelve year old lacking all self confidence, this is a nice feature.

They have also  made an awesome improvement in bowling balls. They have TWO sets of holes for different size hands. The same 8 lb ball has finger wholes for a small hand and a medium hand! I thought that was very innovative. It is occurring to me now that this probably messes with the physics of the whole thing and a serious bowler might NOT be OK with this. If those people still exist, I guess they have their own balls so no harm done.

Even with these new features, bowling is really boring. The only remotely enjoyable thing about bowling is the tunes (if they are good, and today they were). I don’t remember ever loving bowling.  Not sure how I keep ending up in bowling alleys. I am going to try not to let that happen again.

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