The search for league bowlers starts with this columnist’s plea

Over the last two weeks I have been reminiscing about “the good old days” at least as it applies to bowling. When I first started league bowling in the mid 1970s, Heritage Lanes was full of leagues and thus bowlers. That has changed and I’m about to give you some reasons for it. In addition I will also explain how and why there is no reason why we can’t go back to those old days.

So what happened? What caused the popularity of league bowling to wane? Here are three explanations.

ONE — The factory leagues no longer exist. Back in the day virtually every factory in town had its own bowling league. Workers from the plant had nothing to do except sign up and then show up.

The leagues are gone because the factories are gone. There does seem to be a resurgence of economic growth in Tiffin, but the days of a big plant operating several shifts and offering recreational activities for its employees is likely over.

TWO — Some complaints I have heard over the years for people dropping out of league bowling have centered on two things. One was the smoke. Bowling alleys were always among the smokiest places one could visit.

One bowler I knew said he had to strip out of his clothing on the back porch to keep from taking the smell into his home. Eventually he got tired of doing that and quit bowling. As a non-smoker I didn’t care for the smoke either, but I enjoyed bowling enough to put up with it.

The second complaint involved the length of the bowling season. For many bowlers a 32-week season seemed like it went on forever. The beginning and end of the bowling season overlapped other activities that many wanted to participate in. Again, eventually many quit because the season was too long.

THREE — The cell phone and other modern technological devices have taken over our lives.

What did we do before cell phones? Well, at the bowling alley the phone would ring. Then the fella at the desk would get on the PA and tell someone they had a phone call. A guy would go talk for a minute and then come back and inform anyone that cared that he had to stop and take milk home after bowling.

Today those messages don’t even produce a ring. Every bowler has a cell phone and he or she likely will get a text from the significant other informing them that the milk needs to be replenished.

That same cell phone can be used to keep track of any number of events going on in the world. The internet is available on most phones and news will travel fast. In my last couple of years of bowling, every table had multiple cell phones that were in use for most of the evening.

Bowling, it seems, just got in the way.

So what do we do now if we want bowling to boom again? Here are a few random thoughts on the matter.

There are still some large employers in this city. Perhaps you can go to the boss or at least talk to coworkers to see if there is an interest in starting up a bowling league. It might just improve the workplace esprit de corps.

If you would like to join a bowling league, stop out at Heritage Lanes and see what is available. All leagues are looking for new bowlers. If you have visions of starting your own league, talk to your neighbors, friends and relatives. It could happen.

Smoke is no longer an issue. Smoking is not permitted in public places now. The length of the season can be negotiated. If the season is too long, get a substitute for the nights you have to miss.

As for your cell phone — if you must, bring it with you. Better yet, try going without a technological gadget for a few hours. Device free bowling has a nice ring to it.

The beauty of the sport of bowling is that it is for everyone. Age is not a factor. People can still bowl into their 80s and you can begin at virtually any age. You do not have to be an athlete to participate. It is not a prerequisite to run fast, jump high or have athletic skills to play. Heck, you can even eat pizza and have a cold one WHILE you are bowling!

Most of all, bowling is fun. As an added bonus, if you do something special, I might even write a column about your accomplishment.

OK, maybe I should have stopped at fun …

Alley Cats: Justene Tarris 563, Monica Musgrave 562, Wendy Krupp 519, Rhonda Tiell 519 and Kathy Echelberry 476.

Lady Knights: Marilyn Gangluff 491, Carol Burmeister 414 and Liz Nitecki 397.

Allen Eiry: Bob Reinhart 333, Larry Cobb 314, Joanne Elchert 296, Dave Everhart 291, Jim Donaldson 283, Paul Fey 267, Phil Miller 267, Bonnie Steinmetz 260, Ed Wise 247 and Sally VanBuskirk 227.

Rocket: Tyson Shope 622, Jon Distel 591, Tom Tiell 577, Chris Agerter 549 and Rodney Ohms 543.

Plus 55: Jim Ruess 551, Rick Hanna 529, Mike Kimmet 508, Bob Cleveland 501, Dick Gabel 500, Paul Gosche 481, Bob Reinhart 472, Jim Donaldson 445, Al Thomas 425, Jerry Coleman 415, John Ferstler 409, Jim Ferstler 402, Dave Everhart 386 and Paul Fey 333.

Al Stephenson is The A-T bowling columnist.

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