Pins & puns – why bowling should be in the Olympics and other bowling news and tidbits – Column

Chuck Pezzano

CURLING WAS WELL RECEIVED at the 2002 Winter Olympics, and extensive TV coverage gave many people their first look at the sport, which has been described as a combination of shuffleboard, pool, chess, and bowling on ice. Curling has long been considered to be in the same general sporting family as bowling because the approach to the line is similar and the goal of each competitor is to smoothly slide an object at targets a set distance away.

If the Olympics can welcome curling, why not bowling? After all, curling has only a fraction of the participating countries and competitors that bowling enjoys.

Bowling did have a fine presence in Salt Lake City. Bowling leaders hosted multiple receptions, and the sport placed representatives at each of the event’s various meetings and functions. Jerry Koenig, executive director of USA Bowling and president of the Federation Internationale des Quilleurs, has long been a leader in bowling’s drive for Olympic medal recognition.

Why shouldn’t bowling be an Olympic sport? There are approximately 150 million bowlers in the world, and bowling federations have been established in upwards of 125 nations.

Another thing in favor of allowing bowling in the Olympics: Judges or officials almost never determine the outcome of any competition.

Thirty years ago, Mark Roth was a crowd-pleasing young pro. He had an exciting seven-step approach, a then-rare devastating hook, and the competitive attitude of a born champion. He went on to win 34 career PBA titles–second only to Earl Anthony’s 41–and earned every honor the sport can bestow, including election to the PBA Hall of Fame.

Now it’s a different era, but Roth isn’t much different as a bowler. He proved that in his first year as a senior, garnering Senior Rookie of the Year honors. Roth was a near-unanimous selection, even though he missed the first three tournaments waiting until his 50th birthday, which marked his eligibility on the tour. “I felt pretty good all year, I still feel good, and I expect to bowl as much as I can as long as I can,” says Roth.

That’s exactly the same attitude he had when he was a Brooklyn teenager trying to make his mark on the bowling world.

The PBA Senior tour will soon gain another legend: Marshall Holman. In two years, Holman–Roth’s buddy, doubles partner, and respected opponent, and a man who has created his share of action on and off the lanes–will be eligible to join the tour.

I recently listened to some rap music while I was bowling. I had no choice–it was coming out of a CD player 30 lanes away.

There has been a deep interest in the phrase “Let’s Roll” ever since a passenger on one of the hijacked September 11 planes used it as a rallying cry. A radio station in New York City devoted hours to an attempt to trace its derivation and uses. For one usage, it needn’t have looked that hard: From the sport’s earliest days, variations of “Let’s Roll” have been used wherever bowlers gathered to compete.

Elaine Hagin was in Salt Lake City to help promote bowling’s Olympic quest. In a brief chat with figure skating star Michelle Kwan, Hagin explained that bowling was working to become a medal sport. Kwan told Hagin that she liked to bowl but had trouble breaking 100, and then autographed Hagin’s business card, “Good Luck Bowling.”

I met a gentleman who bowled in the same league for 43 years. That’s not easy to do: Forty-three years is longer than most murderers spend in jail.

For many years, Joe Hutchinson of Scranton, Pa., was the wit of the men’s pro tour. He would tell all the rookie pros, “If another bowler goofs, you call it an error. If you goof, you call it `practical experimentation that failed.'”

A bowler told his wife: “Today has been a good day. So far, I haven’t cursed, stolen anything, gotten angry with anyone, or even had any bad thoughts. But now comes the real test of my patience: I have to go bowl in my league.”

Coaches should tell junior bowlers that a 200 game is fine, but an “A” in any subject is finer; a tournament win is terrific, but the honor roll is even more terrific; and a 300 game certificate is great, but a diploma is the greatest thing of all.

There were fears that because of the September 11 attacks and the slumping U.S. economy that the 99th ABC Tournament, being held in Billings, Mont., might be a bust. Not so. The event, which continues through June 23, features 10,806 five-player teams for a total of 54,030 individuals–more than the population of most cities. This proves again that bowling is the people’s sport.

It’s odd, but when you are attempting a key shot, you’re all alone–even if you are in a crowded bowling center.

Never buy a bowling ball in a bowling center parking lot from a person who is out of breath.

Senior writer Chuck Pezzano is one of the top bowling writers in the country. He has won more than 60 writing awards and writes a nationally syndicated bowling column. He also is a member of the PBA and ABC Halls of Fame.

COPYRIGHT 2002 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group

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