The History of Bowling

Topics: Bowling, Ten-pin bowling, Professional Bowlers Association Pages: 6 (2238 words) Published: March 22, 2005
The sport of bowling has a lengthy history packed with an evolution that has comprehensive rules; and is an indoor activity that has become one of the most popular sports in the world. It can easily be said that over 50% of Americans have bowled once in their lifetime, whether it was for a birthday party or on a date. However, many people bowl routinely without knowing anything about the interesting history of the game. Oddly, one of the newest of professional sports, bowling is one of the most ancient. In one form or another bowling has been around for more than 7,000 and years. First traces of the sport were discovered in Egyptian tombs, but historians feel that cavemen may well have had been the originator. Having the first form of bowling using rocks or pebbles to toss at other rocks or pebbles. (Pezzano 13) The Romans, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians were also believed to have played the game in some fashion, but there is no proof available. However, historians know that in Julius Caesar's time period, around 50 B.C., people in the Alpine regions of Italy played a game called "bocce," which is considered the Italian form of bowling and is still played today. (Pezzano 13) The word bowl could be derived from the Saxon bolla and the Danish bolle, which translated to a spherical object. Another theory is that the word originated from the Latin bulla , or the French boule, both meaning "ball." Bowling has been known by many different names: bowls, skittles, kegling, ninepins, Dutch pins and quilles. (Pezzano 13) According to ancient records, Germany's first bowling took on a religious significance. In the early Christian era citizens carried stakes or clubs called kegles. They were used for many purposes, from beating through bushes to defense weapons against attackers. However in the Cathedral cloisters the kegle was set up to represent the devil. A person was then given a rock or some sort of ball with the task of knocking the kegle down. If the player hit the kegle, his life was considered "clean," and had proved it by knocking off the devil (kegle). However if he missed, it indicated his aim not only in the game but in life needed improvement. (Pezzano 14) The game was supposedly so popular in fourteen-century England that the young men were skipping military duties in order to bowl; therefore, King Edward III passed a law to ban the sport. Also, other kings had bowling banned because it became a popular gambling sport, but the sport only continued to grow. In 1455 the sport that had been an outdoor game was brought under a roof for the first time so a game wouldn't be cancelled due to weather conditions. One of the classic historical tales of bowling involved Sir Francis Drake. He did not stop bowling even though his men informed him that the Spanish Armada was approaching in attack formation. Admiral Drake is said to have stated, "There was time to score some of his own strikes and still strike down the Spaniards." (Pezzano 14) In various parts of the world different types of bowling games flourished; including lawn bowling in England and in Ireland road bowling where pins in various numbers, shapes, and forms were used. Even Martin Luther constructed his own lane for his family for he considered the game good family recreation. (Pezzano 14) Bowling came to the "New World" in the 1600's as the game of ninepins, which was a favorite of the early Dutch explorers and settlers who came to the northeastern section of the United Sates. It became very popular with the early Dutch and German people, and even the strict Puritans found the game to their liking. (Pezzano 15) The game of ninepins was a popular betting game, in fact too popular for lawmakers, who eventually outlawed the game. One of the great heroes of bowling history, whose name is sadly unknown, got around the law by adding the tenth pin. This small act changed the game for the better in every way, and bowling was on its way to respectability. (Pezzano 15)...

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