Bowling is an immensely popular sport around the world; the 70 million players a year make it the most popular participatory sport in the United States and many variations are played around the world. But bowling was illegal in the United States. That is, until the tenth pin changed everything. The history of bowling is interesting and complicated, following the rise of civilization from a game of stones and sticks to the highly specialized game of bowling with tweezers that is played today.
The nine-legged bowling alley was created by monks in Germany, where it was known as a kegelspiel around 300 AD. The player tried to knock down nine pins (kegels) with a stone. In this version of the game, the kegel represented a temptation or sin, so players who were able to knock it down were perceived as fairer.
The first written record of bowling comes from a ban by King Edward III in 1366. Apparently his armies were playing the game known as “bowling” so often that he was becoming a serious distraction from his duties in the army. His later successor, King Henry VIII, amended the ban in 1511 to allow the nobility to participate in the sport, but the ban itself did not rise until 1845. Over the years, bowling has evolved to be a predecessor to nine-legged bowling. . , which is called “cakes”.
Bowls were usually played outside the inns on smooth plots. The cakes consisted of nine wooden pins and wooden balls. The balls were thrown to the pins in an effort to knock down as many as possible and one point per pin was earned. A smaller table version was later devised to allow the game to be played inside inns and pubs. This first nine-pin version continued to live among the aristocratic classes, played at Estate Lawns.
Cakes in early interiors
Bowling emigrated to America in the 1600s through European immigrants. Washington Irving tilted his hat for the game in his popular short story “Rip Van Winkle,” in which the protagonist is awakened by the sound of “nine pins” being thrown. In 1840, the first indoor bowling alley was built, Knickerbockers in New York City. Bowling experienced an increase in popularity in the United States during the 1850s and indoor bowling alleys emerged throughout the country, predominantly in areas with large German populations. The rules for this sport were standardized in 1895 through the formation of the American Bowling Congress (ABC), which later merged into the United States Bowling Congress. With the addition of these new regulations, the 1900s saw the growth of bowling alleys in churches, fire stations, and private clubs.
The Tenth Pin
In the early 19th century, bowling alleys were owned primarily by bars and pubs. The culture of crime and gambling was associated with it, and Bowling eventually gained a bad reputation. In 1841, Connecticut banned the ownership of nine-legged rails in an attempt to curb gambling and crime. To circumvent the law, players simply added one more pin, which overturned the ban and the modern game was born. Since then there have been few changes in the rules of the sport.
However, there have been many introductions to the sport that have changed the game forever. The first rubber ball came into play in 1905 and was immediately preferred to the hardwood balls that had been used up to that point. In 1914, bowling balls were upgraded to rubber mineralite. The next evolution occurred in the 1970s with the discovery of polyester. Urethane balls appeared in the 1980s, but today most bowling balls have a resin outer cover.
Until the 1950s the pines were restored by hand. Gottfried Schmidt invented the first automatic clamp in 1946 and that invention helped make the game more timely and efficient. Great bowling like Don Carter, voted the best bowler of all time in 1970, helped make bowling a popular sport, especially through television tournaments. Programs like “Jackpot Bowling” and “Make That Spare” helped elevate bowling to a new level of stardom. A bowling alley was even installed in the White House in 1947, and both White House staff and presidents enjoyed it. The popularity of bowling has declined slightly since its golden age in the 1950s and 1960s, but more than 100 million people still enjoy the sport today. Bowling has constantly lost the reputation of drinking and playing, and is now considered a family adventure.
Bowling often includes arcade and food facilities to actively market bowling as a family activity, and like many modernized games, bowling is now available in virtual formats as well as traditional bowling. The Nintendo Wii offers cakes as a video game, but online versions can also be found on the internet. Although some may prefer to play bowling with a remote control and not a ball, it is still a popular sport around the world.