Seasonal bowling? Maybe there is some merit to this suggestion

I must apologize to those folks who prefer bowling to golf. I finally switched to tales from the lanes and then promptly took a week off. It wasn’t my fault, really. My wife insisted that we go on a cruise and dragged me along against my will. Perhaps that was not quite truthful, as I was a very willing participant on this vacation and all others for that matter.

At any rate, it was not possible to send in a column from Halifax, Nova Scotia, thus the disappointment for my avid readers. As is normally the case, I do endeavor to make my trips “working” vacations and this one was no exception. I did meet a bowler from southern California on an excursion that included a lobster bake.

Sitting across from him while we both sported bibs seemed a little comical, but when I found out that we had the sport of bowling in common, it was time for me to get to “work.”

Let me introduce you to Daniel Nathan from sunny southern California. Given the fact that Daniel is a forensics instructor/consultant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, our conversation was not entirely about bowling. However, I did find out that he bowls three nights a week and that makes him, in my humble estimation, a serious bowler.

Two of the nights he bowls in men’s leagues. The third night he joins his lovely wife in a mixed couples’ league. She also was on the cruise and I scored points with her immediately. Our meal began with each of us being given a bowl of mussels. This was a new “delicacy” for yours truly and it took only one to convince me that whoever decided that these squirmy little creatures should be eaten was decidedly mistaken.

Mrs. Nathan actually loves them, so I let her have the rest of mine. Meanwhile I was free to chat up Mr. Nathan about bowling. He didn’t want to talk much about his own accomplishments, citing instead that though he wasn’t that good, he really enjoyed the sport.

He did, however, share a couple of thoughts that got my attention. He mentioned that in one of his leagues a 91-year-old man participates weekly. We agreed that one of the great things about bowling is the fact that a person from any age group can take part. From 9 to 90 ? it doesn’t matter ? grab a ball and show up. Fun awaits you.

The other thing that I found interesting was Nathan’s comment that league bowling seemed to be dying out in California. That struck a nerve as the number of league bowlers has dwindled here, too. I remember vividly the good old days of say, 25 years ago.

My team bowled the early shift on Thursdays. We had an unwritten rule that we called 10 or 2. When we finished bowling around 9 p.m. we would head back to the bar. If we did not head home within an hour, we likely wouldn’t get home for several hours. That was because the late shift consisted of 24 teams. We knew so many of those folks that if they started trickling back into the bar before we left, well, let’s just say it was going to be a late night.

These days there are few late shifts at all and those that do exist have very few teams. So why has league bowling suffered a decline in participation? Perhaps people have other things to do. Maybe people just don’t want to have fun. I really don’t know the reason, but if there is one complaint I hear again and again, it involves the length of the season.

Bowling begins shortly after Labor Day and runs to the middle or late April. Thirty-to -34 weeks is standard and many people do not want to commit to that length of time.

As I drove home from Boston last weekend, I thought about Daniel Nathan’s comment. If the same complaint is being made in California as it is here, perhaps something can be done about it. A possible solution came to me as I drove along the interstate. It seemed simple, though how much people would go for it, I’m not sure.

How about seasonal bowling leagues? We have summer leagues. Why not fall leagues, followed by winter leagues which would in turn be followed by a spring season? You could commit to a dozen weeks in the fall, take the winter off and come back in the spring. Certain times of the year are busier for many of us than others. Of course you could also bowl in each season as I would guess many would.

It’s just a thought. Taking a season off could allow one to recharge Maybe by taking a cruise where you get to meet some very interesting people!

We’ll start with the Big 8 League this week where Ken Bauman (711) and Chris King (710) topped the charts. Herb Sendelbach posted a 691, while Scott Plickert had 689, Aaron Sherman 685, Jim Hershberger 651, Mark Ratliff 640, Greg Tiell 633, Rich Yates, Jr. 631, John Sauers 622, Carl Wilson 613, Tom Tiell 613, Brian Kidwell 611, Mark Baxter 608, Gary Golden 606 and Ben Hoyda 603.

Rich Yates led the Wednesday Morning League with a 710 as Pat McCarthy shot 673, Ken Lofton 660, Tyson Shope 569, Paul Landers 561, Dianne Smith 530 and Sharon Dowdell 428. Scores from the Sportsman League included Tom Wilkinson 693, Scott Hartsell 681, Ron Yentzer 679, Greg Tiell 674, Rich Yates Jr. 674, Rustan Burks 650, Eric Smith 645, Dick Gabel 636, Mike Babcock 623, Matt Moore 616, Kevin Fitch 610 and Jim Mason 607.

In the Lady Knights League at the K of C Lanes Marilyn Gangluff shot 515, Linda Kimmet 453, Carol Burmeister 442, Nerita Streacker 434, Marge Wilhelm 410 and Lela Gaietto 405. In the Tuesday Night League, Doug Snyder rolled a 605, James Lord 589, Chris Johnson 563, Andy Hess 548 and Jim Rainey 546. Senior League scores included Scott Kromer 580, Doug Snyder 555, Ken Ritzler 554, Kurt Smith 538 and Denny Reamer 507. Jim Ruess had 627, Dan Coppes 611, Bob Reinhart 574, Bill Mizen 564, Bob West 542, Rick Hanna 514, Dick Gabel 510, Dave Everhart 509, Jim Donaldson 473, Paul Gosche 466, Paul Fey 421, Jim Ferstler 393, John Ferstler 391 and Dave Murray 346 in the 55 Plus League.

Al Stephenson is The A-T Bowling columnist.

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