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Author Topic: Was it really never about the bowling?  (Read 990 times)

bcw1969

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Was it really never about the bowling?
« on: August 12, 2019, 07:17:07 PM »
With all the chats we've had on this site over the years  about the "good 'ol days" (when the number of league and competitive bowlers was much higher and the number of bowling centers was way higher) was it really never about the bowling??
And by that I mean the reason so many were participating in league bowling, and the reason the numbers have gone way down over the years really had nothing to do with bowling?? 

I know there are some people who joined a league just to meet people(I know one in particular who did this)...are we really saying that all these people didn't really enjoy bowling all that much and that other endeavors simply came along and shifted them away from bowling to whatever else came down the pike?

I think for me personally I can't comprehend that many people would join bowling leagues like I did(started getting into leagues in the late 80's) and yet not catch the "bug", "fever", or "pull" of the sport like many of us did that kept our interest and passions over the years.   So I imagine the question for me really is "was it really never about the bowling?"

Brad

 

ignitebowling

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2019, 08:19:39 PM »
Entertainment options have changed from then to now.  The world has moved on and in most cases bowling alleys have failed to keep up. 32-36 week leagues for 3+ hours don't work for most people today as it once did. Bowling league is very much a social event. Always has been.


Bowling is the largest participatory sport. So bowling is still popular. It's the options available for leagues or tournaments that in many cases hasn't kept up.

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bradl

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2019, 12:33:56 PM »
Entertainment options have changed from then to now.  The world has moved on and in most cases bowling alleys have failed to keep up. 32-36 week leagues for 3+ hours don't work for most people today as it once did. Bowling league is very much a social event. Always has been.


Bowling is the largest participatory sport. So bowling is still popular. It's the options available for leagues or tournaments that in many cases hasn't kept up.

This also begs the question to be asked outside of the US. Yes, bowling is the biggest participatory sport, and we have seen a lot of other options come up for us in the US. But I'd love to see how it fares internationally, especially in other countries where bowling is huge Japan, Korea, Singapore, UAE, etc. It would be interesting to see the stats from there before making the call..

BL.

MI 2 AZ

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2019, 03:01:30 PM »
Entertainment options have changed from then to now.  The world has moved on and in most cases bowling alleys have failed to keep up. 32-36 week leagues for 3+ hours don't work for most people today as it once did. Bowling league is very much a social event. Always has been.


Bowling is the largest participatory sport. So bowling is still popular. It's the options available for leagues or tournaments that in many cases hasn't kept up.

This also begs the question to be asked outside of the US. Yes, bowling is the biggest participatory sport, and we have seen a lot of other options come up for us in the US. But I'd love to see how it fares internationally, especially in other countries where bowling is huge Japan, Korea, Singapore, UAE, etc. It would be interesting to see the stats from there before making the call..

BL.

Japan had a bowling boom about the late 60s through the late 70s or early 80s, then came the bust.  At one time they had the world's largest bowling center, Tokyo Lanes, with 252 lanes but that closed with the bust.  From memory, I think it was several stories in height.

The largest center in Japan now is Inazawa Grand Bowl with 116 lanes.   
https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-bowling-alley/

How popular is it now? 
https://jpninfo.com/3726

https://jpninfo.com/8369

Below 8 according to this list:
https://allabout-japan.com/en/article/4175/






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BowlingForDonuts

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2019, 03:27:55 PM »
Bowling is awesome its other people that are a hassle. #TeamOnlyAboutTheBowling
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 03:51:09 PM by BowlingForDonuts »
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rocky61201

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2019, 04:53:30 PM »
It seems like this thread and others is asking what motivates people to bowl, or specifically bowl in leagues.  Instead of guessing what motivates people I'll explain what motivated me.

Bowled in youth leagues in the 80's cause my parents were league bowlers and took me to their league nights. Don't remember much but I was good and competitive for a 13/14 year old.  Stopped bowling probably because girls, cars, money and part time jobs became my motivation. 

In my single and married life before kids I golfed.  ALOT.  Dad taught me to golf too.  I had the money and TIME to spend an entire Saturday or Sunday at the golf course with my friends who were also golfers.  Well I had my first kid and golfing went away almost overnight. 

Later down the road my kids were about 8 and 12 years old and wanted to stop in the bowling alley we kept driving by every day.  We did.   I was still good and remembered how to hit the pocket and look good doing it!  I've been hooked on bowling again ever since that day.  It satisfies my need to compete and hang out with like minded adults and be social. Doesn't take as much time or money as golf.

Being exposed and taught how to bowl correctly at a young age was a contributing factor to me coming back to bowling.  I'm sure we are all getting our kids to bowl or at least trying.  All of the competitive bowlers in my leagues have kids that can bowl their asses off and sometimes or most of the time beat their parents so I know for a fact we are doing our part.

What else can we do????   Anybody tried recruiting league bowlers from their work or any place else where you frequently see adults that have lives just like or similar to our own???  Doesn't matter if they know how to bowl or not does it???  Anybody can be taught the basics.  Then then let their ability take them wherever their average goes. 

Honestly I don't really try to recruit adult age leagues bowlers with any real effort.  I'll tell them I bowl in leagues and they should give it a try and see if they like it.  Not much effort is given.  Maybe I'll step up my game and try a little harder.

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rocky61201

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2019, 05:09:55 PM »
How many of us have a friend/co-worker that was probably a competitive athlete back in high school and/or college?  Now he is married w/kids and in his 30's or 40's and hasn't done anything athletic or competed in anything since the good old days.  If that guy knew how to hit a fastball or throw a football I guarantee he can be taught to bowl with very little effort.  Invite him and his family to your league night and see what happens. 
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MI 2 AZ

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2019, 05:26:34 PM »
I think most league bowlers have, like me, at one time or another tried to talk someone else into joining a league.  But really, who is more likely to have daily contact with open bowlers - bowlers who bowl league and do the occasional open bowling or the bowling center counter personnel?  I can't speak for other centers, but at ours, I don't remember seeing or hearing the counter person ask an open bowler if they would be interested in joining a league.  When I worked in centers, that was part of the duty of the counter personnel.  We would usually have a sign-up clipboard handy with all the leagues listed with the times and starting dates and contact info for the league secretary.

Edited to add:
I know all of the leagues we have are smaller (less teams) than a decade ago so they should be able to accomodate new bowlers.


« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 05:28:29 PM by MI 2 AZ »
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tommygn

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2019, 08:45:12 AM »
Here is the rub.

The average league bowler's age is 52.

The game is trying to be marketed to 20 somethings.

There in lies the disconnect, and trouble of the game moving forward.


Look at it this way. It would be like Red Lobster promoting and pushing steak, or Lone Star Steak house promoting sushi. Think about it.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 08:47:14 AM by tommygn »
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bowling4burgers

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2019, 09:35:13 AM »
Here is the rub.

The average league bowler's age is 52.

The game is trying to be marketed to 20 somethings.

There in lies the disconnect, and trouble of the game moving forward.


Look at it this way. It would be like Red Lobster promoting and pushing steak, or Lone Star Steak house promoting sushi. Think about it.
more like Buick marketing for millenials.

...is bowling the Buick of sports?  :o
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rocky61201

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2019, 09:55:38 AM »
Here is the rub.

The average league bowler's age is 52.

The game is trying to be marketed to 20 somethings.

There in lies the disconnect, and trouble of the game moving forward.


Look at it this way. It would be like Red Lobster promoting and pushing steak, or Lone Star Steak house promoting sushi. Think about it.

I agree with your numbers.  In my local centers there are many senior leagues during the day and they are full.  I'm not quite there yet (49).  In my leagues the average age is probably mid 40's.  You're right we ain't going to get the 20 somethings. Those are the recreational bowlers just looking for something to do before the night clubs and bars start jumping.  The 30's and 40's crowd should be the focus.   
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avabob

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2019, 10:09:00 AM »
Bowling boomed wirh the introduction of the automatic pinsetter in the mid 50s.  The business model was built around league bowling and was well received in a society that that was more in tune to long term committments.  Social organizations like lodges and even card clubs were built around weekly committments.   

The level of league participation initiated by this boom was not sustainable in the long run.  League membership began to dwindle for a number of reasons.  More options like youth soccer at the kids level,  vastly narrowed the pool of new bowlers coming to adult leagues.  People backing off from 2 or 3 leagues at the adult level made a difference or finding new recreational activities not generally available in the 50s. 

JessN16

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Re: Was it really never about the bowling?
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2019, 07:37:00 PM »
To answer the original question, no, a lot of people didn't enjoy it as much as they enjoyed other activities that hadn't been invented yet. When those were invented, it pulled some folks off bowling.

Then there is the typical (but correct) answer you'll get about how general societal interaction has changed over the years, which has pulled down members from all sports.

And one thing that's popped up here lately is how younger people are being lured back to arcades (nostalgia) or to new, weird activities (Top Golf-style games, curling, etc.) that they have fun doing *but have no desire to actually get good at.* This is the Bowlero/Dave & Buster's-type crowd that is looking for something do and look silly doing while also drinking. The main game is drinking; the rest is how you dress it up.

Over the last 4-5 years in my league, we've gotten plenty of Millennials and younger Gen-X players who try it out for fun, but very few who actually have a strong desire to improve. They're happy as long as they can roll 150s, get somewhat drunk and laugh at their friends. The younger they are, the more likely they are to be part of this group (until you get down to competitive youth bowling and you see some actual fire again).

Jess