History of Bowling in the United States

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It is believed that bowling dates back to 3200 B.C. After anthropologists discovered a grave on an Egyptian boy, they found primitive bowling balls and pins in it. Some argue that bowling originated in Germany in 300 AD. In 1366 King Edward III banned his English military troops from playing the game. He said that the sport distracted them from their duties. King Henry VIII used cannon balls to bowl w3ith. In Germany and other parts of Europe, the people rolled the ball at ninepins. As it can be seen, bowling did not originate in the United States. People have been practicing this pastime many years before Americans came to the New World.

Bowling was introduced to the United States during the Colonial period. Called “Bowl on the Green”, nine pin bowling was very popular. However, due to problems with gambling and organized crime, nine pin bowling was banned in 1841. Did this ban deter the Americans? No! When they got the notice about the prohibition, they found a loophole. By adding an extra pin, they were not breaking the law. No longer playing nine pin bowling, they invented a new sport called ten pin bowling.

Bowling was originally played outdoors. Built in 1840, Knickerbockers was the first indoor bowling alley.

Bowling became more popular when the Brunswick Company added bowling equipment to their product line. In 1914 this company made improvements to their products. Instead of making wooden balls, they supplied hard rubber balls.

The American Bowling Congress was started in 1895. Where bowling allies were mostly frequented by men, this organization helped get more female bowlers. This group created the standard rules which still exist today.

The golden age of bowling was from 1840 to 1960. Because more and more people became interested in the sport, bowling became popular. It was a billion dollar industry in the United States.

There were increases in bowling technology during this period. The semi-automatic pin spotter was invented in 1936. Then in 1946, this was replaced by the fully automatic pin spotter.

Since the 1950s was also the television age, the popularity of bowling was exposed to more Americans. As they purchased their first television sets, Americans viewed commercials advertising bowling. Also, with televised bowling competitions, the popularity of ten pin bowling continued to grow.

League bowling became popular during the 1960s and early 1970s. Don Carter and Dick Weber, two professional bowlers, were popular role models.

The second golden age of bowling began during the late 1980s. With computers and automatic scoring systems, the people concentrated on what they loved about the sport-rolling the ball down the lane and hitting pins. While at the beginning of the 1980s, there was a decline of interest in bowling, new technology is responsible for the new found interest.

Bowling is one of the most popular sports not only in the United States but in the world. In 90 countries there are over 100 million bowlers. The United States Bowling Congress has over two million members.

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