Bowling is something we are quite familiar with, aren't we?
It is a sport that has been a part of the western world since the modern time.
Or was it?
I am a huge fan of the sport, and I play it almost on a regular basis. Just as every other day, I went down the bowling alley and was minding my own business and playing bowling.
A little kid came running towards me asking "Hi, do you know the history of bowling?".
I had to reply to the little kid NO.
Yup, I felt sad, ashamed – to be precise. I had no idea that even bowling has a history worth knowing before that kid asked me. And when I started my research, oh boy! The sport was full of rich history to share.
Before We Move On To The History of Bowling…
Let me tell you briefly about the game. Bowling or Ten-Pin bowling is where a ball is rolled down a wooden lane destined to hit Tenpins.
The objective of the games is to score by knocking out as my pins as possible in one role. The ball is specially designed for the game and can be extremely heavy.
To make the throwing experience fluid, two holes are cut in the ball so that you can place your fingers in them. A few bowling balls have a third finger for the thumb, but they are less common.
This is a sport which can be played by people of all ages and gender. Less heavy balls are available for female or children although it is unlikely that many will use them.
This is because of the more substantial the ball, the higher the chances that the rolling ball will knock most of the pins.
In modern time, there are automated machines that will place the pins after each time these are knocked out. Before automated machines, this used to be done by a human.
The lane is about 105cm wide and 18m in length. The sides of the path are sloped which will collect balls which are not rolling in the right direction.
At the start of the lane, a white line is marked which is called the foul line. If any player crosses the line while throwing the ball, the turn is canceled as it's an offensive play.
Ancient History of Ten-Pin
The history if bowling can be traced back from 5000 years ago. British anthropologist known by the name Sir Flinders Petrie with his team of researchers discovered old bowling ball and bowling pins which were dated to be from 3200BC.
This evidence was found in a grave of Egyptian Child while they were in an expedition. Some claim this is the earliest form of bowling.
Since that finding, countless other anthropologist has discovered Hieroglyphics and Artwork which resemble a lot like modern-day bowling.
Another anthropologist named Professor Edda Bresciani who is a professor in the University of Pisa said to have discovered an ancient hall which resembles a modern-day bowling alley.
The Hall is located approximately 92 miles south of the city of Cairo. The hall is off-limits for the visitor.
You can check the boundaries of the building if you want to.
History of Bowling in Germany
There are others who claim that bowling originated in Germany around 300CE which was the part of a religious ritual that required people to role stone pointing towards Kegels to remove their sin.
History of Bowling in England
Although there are disputes among historians about an exact date at which bowling entered England, but the earliest evidence of a bowling area in England was in the year 1299.
This bowling area is still open today. Southampton is where you are going to find this ancient place in England.
The very first time that bowling was ever mentioned in the paper was in the year of 1366 when King Henry 3 banned bowling from the country of England.
This ban was issued because all the soldiers at that era would stay busy playing this sport. Can you blame them?
Although bowling was banned by the king, it didn't stop the soldiers or the ordinary citizens from playing the sport. Back then, bowling didn't have any lane or center that was designed to play bowling.
Most people just presumably made stones round and made bowling pins out of wood to play. The rules varied from player to player as at that time it was not recognized as a sport.
In the year 1400, bowling was unbanned by the same king and was recognized as a sport. Bowling center began to immerse with lanes to assist the ball, and a roof was placed over players heads.
It was not long before bowling was banned again but this time it was only for the poor. Bowling was seen by the Kind Henry V1 as a sport which should only be played by the rich.
The ban for the sport was issued in 1511. Interestingly, this was the exact day when the sport got unbanned for the poor remains a mystery till this day.
New variations of primitive bowling began to immerse all over the area. Games including 10-17 pins and balls varying from 1-3. The numbers may be different but the goal was the same "Knocking down all the pins".
History of Bowing in America
1670 is known to be the year when bowling was introduced in America. This game was brought to the American society by British, German and the Dutch that settled in the nation.
Bowling was not introduced in literature before 1891. In 1891, Washington Irving wrote a novel name the Rip Van Winkle. In this novel, the writer described how he used to hear the sound of "Crashing nine pins" when the old Dutchman played the game.
This statement indicated that the Dutchman was the one who introduced the game of bowling to the American writer.
During the early 1800's, American would gamble for recreational purpose and bowling was the game which was bet the most on. Due to this reason, bowling was banned in individual states of America.
The American Bowling Congress was formed in the city of New York in the year 1895. This association was created to bring order and a set of universal rules to the game.
Before the birth of this association, bowling had no rules and everyone played on their terms. As bowling got more and more popular in society and was seen as a form of favorite sport, something had to be done.
After forming this association, bowling became a civilized game in which women started taking an interest in. Gambling on the game stopped eventually, and this sport namely bowling was recognized by all civilians.
In the year of 1917, WIBC (Women's International Bowling Congress) was formed. This allowed the women to participate in events worldwide. And later in time, this became the most significant women bowling association.
Modern Times Bowling (20th Century)
The 20th century is where bowling received its most popularity with companies sponsoring the game. Beverage companies like Budweiser and Heineken began sponsoring their brands by supporting the sport.
The 1950s was the golden era when television was introduced. And with the introduction of Television, bowling became more popular as people got to know more about the sport.
The "Championship Bowling" was broadcasted on television on that time which made the popularity of bowling skyrocket.
In 1958, Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) was founded which would then turn out to get more than 4 thousand members from 15 different countries.
In America, the first network to Air the PBA event was the ABC channel. ABC also went on to develop a series named the "Pro Bowlers Tour." This show became the most popular sports broadcast shown on the channel.
Bowling was not only popular among civilians but also the presidents of many countries. Bowling was seen as a great way to pass their leisure time.
Olympic games are something that has been in this world since the era of the Roman Empire and Jesus Christ. Although according to the histories, Bowling has already been introduced in ancient times even so in 1988's Olympic games, bowling was presented again.
More than 20 nations from all over the world participated in the game with their army of skilled players.
Sadly, bowling was never made an official sport in the Olympic games. Even in current times, bowling is still shortlisted but not added in the game.
Bowling has been a great source of entertainment for most people since decades. To see how much the game has evolved over the years is mind-blowing. At current times, there are more than 100 million players in Bowling from all over the world.
The game has turned from an outlaw game to a game played by presidents. The popularity of bowling always has grown at a steady pace even though it was banned now and then.
It is said to be on the shortlist for new potential sports to finally be featured in 2020 Olympic games. It's about damn time this sport receive the genuine respect that it deserves.