Bowling Ethnography

Good Essays
Heather Dooley

10 Pound Balls

We tend to think that bowling is a very simple and boring sport played by only older men. I did my fieldwork at a bowling alley during two different leagues to explore the different social interactions among bowlers. I learned that bowling is not limited to one specific age group or gender. I also discovered there is a unique hierarchy among the bowlers that is not determined by their age or gender. This social status is dependent upon their bowling average, type of ball used, and the weight of their balls. I found there were many other social interactions that occurred between smaller groups of bowlers such as teammates. I first entered the field during a Wednesday night bowling league. The bowling alley was filled with mostly men. I walked the length of the building and couldn’t find any women bowling. I soon found out this was a men only bowling league. I was told there was also a women only bowling league that occurred on Tuesday’s. The majority of the men bowling were middle-aged or older. However, there were a lot of men in their twenties bowling as well. On my second entry into the field it was during a Friday night bowling league. On this night the bowlers were all different ages but with a majority of younger men and women in their twenties. When I walked the length of the bowling alley that night I counted almost an equal amount of women as I did men. In this league it was required to have at least two or three women on each team. This is called a mixed league. On the third night of observations, my second Wednesday night, I sat down at a table with a team of bowlers. Three were in their twenties and two were in their late forties. While I was talking to one of the younger men I told him how I noticed a lot less women in this league then the Friday night league. I asked what the requirements were, if any, to join either league. He said “In order to join this league you had to have a 180

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