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Bowling-PinsYou have to have special shoes, hold a marble-looking ball that weighs anywhere from 6 to 16 pounds, throw it fairly straight down a 60 foot alley in the hopes of knocking down 10 3 & 1/2-pound bowling pins. If at first you do not succeed, you are allowed a second chance to knock down the pins that were missed on your first try.  What is the appeal of this activity that can rarely be mastered?

Bowling is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone no matter of age or skill level.  It can be done alone, with a partner, or a team.  Bowling is one of the few sports that can be tailored to your personality.  The only downside to bowling is that it cannot be done in your backyard or at the park with an impromptu game with neighborhood friends.  Nonetheless, it is a fun time for everyone.

Now that you have visited your local bowling alley, bowled a few games, and had a great time.  What do you do next? Every bowling alley has several leagues where teams of 3 – 5 people get together once a week and compete against each other.  It is a time to gather with friends, make new friends, and enjoy a night away.  There are leagues for every age and skill level as well.  You can find men’s leagues, women’s leagues, youth leagues, ma and pa leagues, adult/youth leagues, mixed leagues, senior leagues, and even theme leagues such as a NASCAR league in which you receive a NASCAR themed ball at the end of the season.  All of these leagues fit into one of two categories – sanctioned or unsanctioned. 

The unsanctioned leagues are totally sponsored by the bowling alley.  They make the rules, set the fees, and provide any rewards or incentives for the league.  The sanctioned leagues are governed by the United States Bowling Congress which sets the rules, sponsors tournaments, and provides some awards at the end of the season.

The unique feature about the USBC is that they set up a scholarship fund for each youth bowler who is a member of the USBC.  They earn ‘money’ for this fund by competing in tournaments and participating in bowling center sponsored functions.  The center where my kids bowl contributes money to a bowler’s fund if they pick the winner of the local rivalry football game between the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines.  The only stipulation is that the bowler may not enter a tournament for money.  They may win prizes but not money maintaining an amateur status.

The Pepsi Cola Company sponsors a national tournament for the youth every year.  The tournament starts at a center level and bowlers advance to the city, district, state and finally national levels.  Many kids have been provided a full ride to their college education because of the scholarship funds provided by the USBC. 

Bowling is a great way to get out of the house for a couple of hours and share camaraderie with family and friends.  So grab a couple of friends and head to your local bowling alley for a great time.