Bowling refers to a series of sports or leisure activities in which a player rolls or throws a bowling ball towards a target. In pin bowling variations, the target is usually to knock over pins at the end of a lane. The most common types of bowling include ten-pin, nine-pin, candlepin, duckpin and five pin bowling, while in target bowling, bowls, bocce, carpet bowls, petanque and boules, both indoor and outdoor varieties, are popular. Today, the sport of bowling is enjoyed by 100 million people in more than 90 countries worldwide. It is one of the major forms of throwing sports. Read on to learn the origins, rules and impact of bowling/skittles in popular culture.
The earliest forms of bowling date to Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. Remains of balls used at the time were found among artifacts in ancient Egypt, going back 3000–5000 years. Balls were made using the husks of grains, covered in material such as leather, and bound with string. Other balls, made of porcelain or even plastic, have also been found, indicating that these were rolled along the ground, rather than thrown, due to their size and weight.
The first standardized rules for pin bowling were established in New York City on September 9, 1895. The oldest surviving bowling lanes in the United States are part of the summer estate of Henry C. Bowen in Woodstock, Connecticut, at Roseland Cottage. The lanes, now part of Historic New England’s Roseland Cottage house museum, date to the construction of the old cottage in 1846. They contain Gothic Revival architectural elements, in keeping with the style of the entire estate.
Rules for target bowls evolved in each of the countries who had adopted the predominantly British based game. In 1905, the International Bowling Board was formed, and it subsequent constitution adopted the Laws of the Scottish Bowling Association. These variations allowed for various regulations at individual country level. The oldest known bowls green for target style bowling is that which is now part of the Southhampton Bowling Club, in southern England. The use of the land as an area for recreational bowling dates back to 1299, and was then known as the “Master’s Close”
Today, bowling is enjoyed by ninety-five million people in more than ninety countries worldwide and continues to grow through entertainment media such as in arcades, video games for home consoles and handheld devices.
The sport of ten-pin bowling is performed on a straight, narrow surface known as a lane. A game of bowling consists of ten frames. In each frame, the bowler will have two chances to knock down as many pins as possible with his bowling ball. In games with more than one bowler, as is common, every bowler will take his frame in a predetermined order before the next frame begins. If a bowler is able to knock down all ten pins with the first ball, he is awarded a ‘Strike’. If the bowler is able to knock down all 10 pins with the two balls of a frame, it is known as a ‘Spare’. Bonus points are awarded for both of these.
If a player fails to knock down any pins and the ball flies down the gutter then that is known as a ‘Gutterball’. Although, if a player gets three strikes in a row then that is known as a ‘Turkey’.
If the bowler knocks down all 10 pins in the tenth frame, the bowler is allowed to throw three balls for that frame. This allows for a potential of 12 strikes in a single game, and a maximum score of 300 points, a perfect game. The player with the most points at the end of ten frames wins.
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Impact in Popular Culture
Bowling or Skittles is heavily featured in popular culture especially in film and television. The popular game is featured in movies such as:
- The Big Lebowski (1998)
- Kingpin (1996)
- Alley Cats Strike (2000)
- Split (2009)
- Blackball (2003)
The game has also featured in television programmes such as:
- King of Queens
- The Flinstones
- The Golden Girls
- Big Bang Theory