Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

On the Shining Paths of Tenpin

By Cooper, Marc | The Nation, August 10, 1998 | Go to article overview

On the Shining Paths of Tenpin


Cooper, Marc, The Nation


WHAT'S CHEAP, EASY, CLOSE TO HOME AND RELIES ON THE SOCIALIST NOTION OF HANDICAP?

"I felt a rush like I had personally just won the World Series!" said 51-year-old squat, paunchy attorney Al Glanz. "Only in bowling can an out-of-shape middle-aged short guy win that kind of victory." Glanz, a college-days SDS comrade and current leadoff man of my five-person bowling team, Al's Animals, was reflecting back on our 1997 league championship.

After thirty-eight Tuesday nights of competition against seventeen other mixed-gender teams, we found ourselves in the final roll-off matched against some big bruisers. Miraculously, we split the first two games. And in the final bowl-off we were neck and neck going into the tenth and last frame. Al bowled two strikes and finished over 150. In the anchor position, I wound up a handful of points above my 198 average. As 100 other league members looked on, the opposing team's Big Kahuna anchor was shooting his tenth frame. Glancing at the scores projected over our heads, he apparently miscalculated the narrow difference between us and--grossly overconfident--whipped his sixteen-pound Code Red ball out toward the lone ten-pin standing on the back-righthand corner of the alley. But hubris has a price. The Kahuna's ball went on a sharp angle to the 5 board and, skidding in the conditioning oil, failed to stabilize and then plunked unceremoniously into the gutter three feet short of the pin.

The electronic tote board flashed our one-point victory as we basked in applause and cheers. At the awards ceremony later that evening we left elated with armfuls of trophies and $287 in prize money. A year later we still talk excitedly of our razor-close win (this year we tanked out in fifth place).

Such are the wonders of organized, serious bowling. I'm the only member of my team with a high average. Al hadn't bowled in twenty-five years and had worked himself up to 125. Team member and printer Miki Jurcan was then a first-year bowler averaging 137. Bookkeeper Kim Yoh shot in the high 150s, and her developmentally disabled brother, Dale, in the 140s.

But those averages made little difference. Bowling is the most democratic of sports. You most often play in your own neighborhood; teams are drawn from networks of friends or co-workers; more often not the squads are mixed gender, and usually mixed generation. It's relatively inexpensive, easy to learn (at least the basics). But most important, 95 percent of bowling leagues rely on the very socialist notion of handicap--a formula that adjusts for the differences between teams. This goes way beyond affirmative action. We were able to win the championship against much better bowlers not because we outbowled them but because they had to "spot" us sixty-five pins a game, and we outbowled our usual selves. From each according to his ability...

Bowling is also a literate sport. In a two-team matchup you must follow ten separate evolving narratives through three games and thirty frames. Much as in baseball (and in sharp contrast to either soccer or basketball) virtually every moment of play can be frozen, studied, analyzed, regretted or celebrated. Even on a losing night you might be compensated by picking up two different splits, or finally perfecting your conversion of a troublesome spare. Bowling also requires some basic mathematical skills. Even with automatic scoring now almost the norm, you have to figure out a series of calculations quickly in your head to know exactly where you stand.

Maybe this is why a younger generation seems to be giving up on the sport. Many claim it's too boring, too square. But maybe to a culture that is becoming to narrative and sequential logic, bowling is just too demanding. With alarming frequency, more and more bowling alleys are converting to so-called Cosmic Bowls. Irony replaces competition and acquired skill. Black lights, fluorescent pins, pounding disco music, cheap beer and a crowd of kids who come bowling--but bowling in quotes.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

On the Shining Paths of Tenpin
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.