How Serious Is League Bowling?

How Serious Is League Bowling?

By James Goulding III


You all know the league bowler you can’t stand.  The guy who slaps out every “big” strike, the one who pumps his fist in your team’s face if he throws the final strike in the anchor position to beat your team by a pin.  You have that guy (or girl) in your league, correct?  Almost everyone does, and it gets me to the subject of my latest blog entry, which is how serious should we take our league bowling.  One would think it is a simple answer, but that is not always the case.

I am a very competitive bowler, anyone who has ever bowled with or against me can attest to that statement.  But, there is a fine line between being competitive and being just plain ignorant and rude.  I am always the first to congratulate someone who beats me (or my team), it shows good sportsmanship and class to do so.  There is nothing worse than bowling against a team of bowlers who have poor sportsmanship.  When they beat you, they rub it in your face, and when they lose, it’s not because you bowled well, it because they got cheated somehow.  This type of attitude shown toward your fellow bowler can make some of the less “serious” bowlers out there consider not bowling in another league again.  This not only hurts the league, but ultimately has a negative impact on the entire sport of bowling.

I try and tell people, league bowling is great, but if you want to be intense, start bowling local and regional tournaments.  There is nothing wrong with taking league serious, just save the ultra intensity for tournament bowling, where it belongs.  I mean, what good can be gained from slapping out strikes in a Tuesday night men’s league?  Not only do you alienate your team mates by your actions, you look like a fool in front of the entire league.  Keep your emotions in check, not only will it help you bowl better, you will gain the respect of your peers at the lanes at the same time.

If you need an excuse to tone it down a bit, do something that I do: Treat it like a practice session for tournament bowling.  This is a very effective tool and can aide you in keeping your emotions in check if you are an excitable person on the lanes.  I will use league many times to try new equipment, a new release, etc.  If I can not squeeze in an extra practice session before a tournament, this allows me to work on my game, while also being competitive at the same time.  I do not try and hurt my team, I still try my best every time out, but by trying new things I can open my game up and once in a while I can catch lightning in a bottle and sometimes shoot a very big number.  Also, don’t forget the most important thing about league bowling:  HAVE FUN!!!!  If league bowling seems like a job to you, it is time to re-evaluate how you view bowling and lighten up a bit at the lanes.

There is a time and place for everything, and league bowling is not the place to showcase yourself like you are the next Pete Weber.  Try a little tact and have respect for yourself, those around you, and for the sport of bowling.  You will be glad you did.

3 responses to “How Serious Is League Bowling?

  1. Some leagues are very competitive and have a large amount of Money on the line. The League you mention in your post actually has a prize fund of nearly $20,000. With the league elite having the opportinuty of making nearly $500-750 per bowler depending on what awards they win at the end of the seaosn to go with the prize and team place money they will receive. Not to mention that some of the bowlers you are referring to, also are spending a considerable amount of money to participate in brackets and other side pots which they can either lose $50-100 or make $200-300 in any given night. While I agree there are poor sports out there, you have to realize when you join a league the type of league and the level of competitivenees your going to encounter. I would say some of this falls onto league co-ordinators who should know better than to put beginning bowlers into a very competitive high energy league. I agree we need to build our sport, we need to build it by starting with our YOUTH Programs, and by building High School Bowling Programs accross our state. Our YOUTH Programs have deteriorated in some areas through poor leadership, in both the programs and in the associations which govern them. To address your comments about people who consider bowler as somewhat of a job, remember those same bowlers who by bowling well and entering Brackets and other Pots, have the opportinuty to make a profit each night which sometimes can be in excess of $300.00, each night they bowl. Consider if your league is running 20 Brackets (the league mentioned here has run as many as 30 on some night last season), a bowler who enters each bracket is spending $100.00 for those brackets and has the opportinuty to make $500.00 by winning those brackets. More than some people take home form their full-time job. But it’s not for everyone. However, even with all of that we all need to have a level of respect for those bowlers around us, whether competitive of not, whether the league elite, or the 140 Average guy who is just trying to get out of the house for a night out with the guys. And Again, the bowlers who are out there to drink, be roudy, and disruptive, need to show the same respect they expect from those competitive bowlers they are complaining about. As far as Tournament Bowling goes, even though this is a much more competitive envirnoment, Bowlers still need to have respect for those around them. The bottom line is this Respect Yourself, Respect those around, and respect the game, this is the start we can all make to grow the sport we love.

  2. Response by James Goulding III


    Very well written post, first of all, and secondly, thank you for reading the blog. I was not referencing any league in particular with my post, it just happens that I bowl in a Tuesday night league, and that was the first night that popped into my head. No specific league was the source of my commentary, I was making an observation from my years and experience on the lanes in leagueas and tournament bowling. I myself have been guilty in the past of some of the poor qualities which I highlighted in my original topic post, which gave me the inspiration to write the post. If you can not see the flaws in yourself, you are not looking hard enough, and you will never be in a position to correct others. Those are words I live by, and try convey to those who know me. That goes to what I was saying in the first place, which is to have respect for everything and everyone around you on and off the lanes.

    From the guy who bangs his fist off the wall, to the guy who likes to ridicule his fellow bowler behind his or her back, both are just as guilty of disrespecting themselves, the game, and their team on a night to night basis. Sorry, but the guy who slaps out a strike and runs it out two lanes over in a men’s league, to beat a team by a pin, is a sore winner, period. It is only league bowling, not throwing the final strike to win the U.S. Open (which would still be uncalled for IMHO). There is a time and place for most things, but acting like a jerk and upstaging everyone else on the lanes has no place in bowling, not if we want to grow and thrive as bowlers.

    As far as brackets and side pots go, I have no problem with anyone wanting to make a little extra coin on the side. I would like to think, though, that getting into brackets and side pots is not a blanket excuse to treat your fellow bowlers badly, simply because one has put $150 into brackets in a night, and came out shooting a 145 game, thus losing all of the $150 the bowler put into brackets. I have always said, if you are good enough to sustain an income bowling at your current level, you should move up to the next level of competition.

    If you are good enough to constantly beat the competition and take home $300 a week in brackets on a THS league, go to a sport league, or PBA regional competition, etc. Challenge yourself, if you’re that good at consistently making money, why not go at it as a full time job? If bowling really is a job to you, then give 100% of yourself to making that your goal. If I thought I were at that level, and had the money saved up to do so, I would be on the next plane to whatever PBA stop there were this week. My point, not to drag this discussion away from the topic, is that I have no problem with people being INTENSE on the lanes (heck I can be as intense as anyone out there), it’s how they act when they come off the lanes, and how they treat their fellow bowlers which makes the difference to me.

    I do agree with you David, that the guys who are rowdy and drink can be just as disruptive as the intense bowler who thinks he is the next Pete Weber. In both cases, each guy needs to take a step back and see how their reactions reflect upon themselves, their team, and the sport in general to those who may be watching bowling for the first time.

    In my original topic post, I even stated this quote: “There is nothing wrong with taking league serious” and I mean that completely. But, there is a fine line between intensity and ignorance, and as a serious bowler you need to know how and when to turn that switch on and off. Nowhere in my original topic did I say bowling in brackets or bowling to win were bad things, quite to the contrary actually. I think that if more lower average and beginning bowlers saw GOOD and POSITIVE behavior from the higher average bowlers they look up to, it would make them want to be more like them and encourage them to become better bowlers themselves. Nothing good can come from being a jerk on the lanes, no matter how much money you win or lose in a night.

    I also agree that youth programs are the way to grow the sport, but I will save that for another topic completely, and it will be addressed at a future time, thank you for bringing that up David.

    I would like to finish my response with a quote from David: “The bottom line is this Respect Yourself, Respect those around, and respect the game”. I could not have said it better myself, well put. Thanks for the response, and I hope you enjoyed reading the blog, and we hope you continue to visit in the future. See you on the lanes!!!

  3. I certainly was not suggesting that I was not too at fault of at times displaying a less than likeable behavior on the lanes. As anyone who knows me inside the lanes only, I am that intense, highly competitive bowler, who likes to try to make a little money on the side, who also understands the limits of that. Not all of us can just “Jump the next plane” to the next PBA regional tournament. Even though, the bowler may believe that he can or will make some extra money over the course of a season by getting in all the brackets or side pots or whatever the case may be, it does not mean that he think he is ready to compete at a PBA Level. I will give you this example; I get in every bracket in Brunswick every night, because I feel like over the long haul I WILL Make decent money. I Base this on History and the fact that on Monday Night I am in the Top 3 Averages at 227 and Thursdays I am the Top Average at 237. In Contrast I do not get in ANY Brackets on Tuesday in Augusta, because I do not feel I can compete at a high enough level that I will certainly make money of the course of the season, even though I am in the top 10 Averages in the league. Obviously, referring to my statement below, I feel I am one of the Best in Brunswick, and that I would not considered myself one of the Best in Augusta. “Bowlers Excel in different circumstances.” Sometimes you are just the best that day, that season, that league, that bowling center, what have you. Yes I do think I am one of the Best Bowlers in the State of Maine, I personally think there are probably 10-12 Bowlers in this state who consistently prove they are among the very best this state has to offer when it comes to bowling. These are not always the bowlers with the highest Average, These are the bowlers who consistently compete not only in ONE Center, Who Consistently regardless of where the tournament may be complete at a high level, these are the bowlers I consider the best. I may consider myself part of that group however, I certainly do not consider myself someone who is ready to “take the next step” and compete at a different or higher level. I am quite content, to bowl my 3 Weekly Leagues, win a Local Tournament here and there, and make a little money on the side. I like my full-time job and have no desire to Bowl Full-Time as a Job.

    Now for those who know me also outside of the lanes, those people know a completely different side of me. I am the first to admit I am very intense, competitive, and confident when I walk into a bowling center. That honestly starts for me while I am getting ready at home for bowling that day whether it is League or a Tournament. I prepare myself mentally. It is almost like a switch that is turned on and off; some people have referred to it as I am almost like 2 completely different people, 1 on and 1 off the lanes. I would tend to agree with that. This is what works for me on the lanes. I feel that once you get to certain skill level that Bowling is 70-90% Mental. From Mental Toughness when things are going bad (not mentally giving up), to confidence that you can somehow manage to throw a good shot in the clutch even when things are not going so well, to staying focused and confident night in and night out regardless of what personal things may be happening inside and outside of the Bowling Center. These are all not easy things to do. But they are all part of the Mental Side of this game.

    I agree there is a fine line between intensity and ignorance. There is also a fine line between confidence and cockiness. And a lot of observers confuse the 2. As for myself, I do not think I am the best on the lanes, I do not think there even is a BEST. I think that certain bowlers excel in certain situations. And everyone has to find what works for them.

    I agree with you completely that League Bowling is just that League Bowling. And we agree that in some leagues there is a lot of money out there on the line both for the season and on any given night. Thus we should all remember that even as we compete in Brackets or Side Pots or what have you that LEAGUE Bowling is a TEAM Sport. When you are bowling with a TEAM whether it is in your weekly League or a Tournament, your behavior is a reflection of your entire Team. I have removed bowlers form Teams that I have been the Captain of, because of a poor attitude when they are bowling badly.

    Again as we both agree the bottom line is this – Respect Yourself, Respect Your Team, Respect Your Opponents, Respect the Rules, and Respect the GAME

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