[April 2017] A comeback, bowling: Bowling rolls back into style

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By: Becca Rawiszer ’17

While the thought of bowling may stir up distant memories of five-year-old birthday parties, for some Staples community members, bowling is an ever-present part of their lives.
“I really like the atmosphere of bowling,” Harris Levi ’18 said. “It offers a very different aspect of sport competitiveness than I’m used to.”
Levi considers himself a competitive bowler and spends one day out of his busy week at Nutmeg Bowl in Norwalk, Connecticut with his brothers.
“Competitive bowling is awesome,” Levi said. “Being able to play with people who appreciate the game as much as you do is great.”
Despite his appreciation for bowling, he doesn’t see a real future in the sport. Bowling popularity has declined along with the number of bowling alleys available. As of Dec. 2007, there were only 5,498 certified 10-pin bowling centers in the United States, which is less than half the number certified in the mid-1960s. The business used to be built around leagues who would sign up to come multiple times a week for a certain period of time. The decline in league bowling has definitely hurt bowling alleys’ businesses and, one by one, bowling alleys across America are shutting down.
However, some teachers in the Staples community are hopeful that bowling will survive and have noticed a slight comeback.
“The beauty of the game is that it’s a challenge,” Spanish teacher, Eamon Griffin said. “And it seems so simple. All it is is rolling a ball and trying to hit the same target. But to repeat that on a consistent basis is not as easy as it would look or seem.” Griffin has participated in the teachers’ bowling league, called Mixed Nuts, for about 10 years. The league consists of current teachers, retirees, Bedford Middle School teachers and other staff members. The bowling season runs 30 weeks long, not including a championship week at the end of the season. They essentially bowl every Thursday between September and late March.
“There is definitely an interest in the sport. If you don’t bowl, you probably wouldn’t notice,” Griffin said, “but since we bowl every week, we see hundreds of high school students bowling competitively. Some are really good and some aren’t so good, but they’re there and having a great time.”
Griffin explains that he not only likes the challenge of bowling, but the camaraderie as well. When Griffin first entered Staples, the league was a great way to make friends and he continues to make new ones every year.
Social studies teacher and avid bowler, Carol Avery, grew up in Norwalk, and has watched bowling slip between the cracks of the Fairfield County community.
“Norwalk used to have two bowling alleys, Bridgeport had two as well, and Westport had one and everyone was doing it,” Avery said. The decrease in popularity of the sport, however, hasn’t stopped Avery.
Avery continues to bowl every Monday night with a group of close friends and participates in the Fairfield County USBC annual tournament, the state tournament and the International Gay Bowling organization in Philadelphia that she attends with her husband and friends.
“What I love about bowling is that it is by far the most diverse sport,” Avery said. “Everyone does it. You go to a bowling alley and you see all races, all genders, old people do it, young people do it.” Avery tries to bowl as much as she can and is disheartened by the decline in leagues.
“I think parents would rather their children participate in a different sport where it’s more active, more exercise and outside,” Avery said. “Playing soccer on a Saturday morning is probably more about fitness than being inside a junior bowling alley.”
But the decline in popularity has not affected the avid bowlers at Staples.
“I know bowling is something I’ll enjoy doing for a long time,” Levi said. “I’ve made some great friends bowling, and it’s something I will always appreciate.”