Did you know that every time you pick up a bowling ball you are enjoying a pastime that dates back several thousand years? Did you know that a certain type of bowling is banned in almost every state? And did you know that you maybe shouldn’t take those convenient finger holes for granted?
Yes, bowling has an interesting history. It is also a lot of fun! So soak up all of these odd facts about bowling and deepen your appreciation for a game that isn’t really as straight laced as you’ve always believed.
Bowling is really old. Like, really, really old.
So while bowling alleys have been a staple of our lives, and our parents’ lives, and our grandparents’ lives, it can’t have been around forever, can it? Well, in fact, it kind of has been. A primitive bowling set was found in a child’s grave in Egypt, along with other items that date back to 3200 B.C. Yes, you did the math correctly. Bowling, in an early form, was around more than 5,000 years ago.
Let’s put that number into perspective. Wheels had been invented just a few hundred years earlier, in 3500 B.C. Writing was invented in 3200 B.C. Candles didn’t show up until 3,000 B.C. and swords had to wait until 1600 B.C. to come into existence. Our ancestors may not have been able to see in the dark, write a letter, or defend themselves effectively. But they could, apparently, bowl. Which is just more evidence that there is always time for a little bit of fun.
Bowling’s history is…diverse.
So what exactly counts as bowling? Is it rolling a ball between your legs and falling on your stomach, which is reportedly one way to play the game in Edinburgh? Hopefully not. Do you need to be in a bowling alley or do bocce ball or England’s related lawn bowling count? Very civilized but not exactly what we think of as bowling today. Is it throwing the ball at nine pins or ten? Is it a religious exercise (evidently touted by Martin Luther and popular in Germany)?
The short answer is, yes. In fact, like a game of telephone, bowling has morphed into different versions of the original as it encountered different cultures and time periods. Of course, today, bowling is a standardized game that takes place in dedicated bowling alleys. The many other variations have either died off or taken on other monikers (like bocce ball).
But if you look at the history of bowling, you will see many different versions of the game literally played out across many different cultures and time periods. Bowling might have come into its own, but it definitely enjoyed a free spirited youth.
Bowling cannot have nine pins. That’s the law.
How many pins does a standard game of bowling have? If you guessed ten, you are correct. If you guessed nine, you might just be a law breaker. And this is no outdated law. Every state but one currently outlaws bowling with nine pins.
These laws originated when bowling, then known as ninepins (Remember Rip van Winkle and the giants playing ninepins?) was less the family-friendly game of fun that it is today and was instead a large part of the gambling scene. Think of it as bowling’s bad boy days. In an attempt to prevent the spread of gambling, and associated crimes, the game of ninepins was outlawed.
Of course, a loophole was eventually found. By simply adding a single pin to the game, bowling once again became a legal pursuit. Lucky for us and for you. A life without bowling would be a sad life indeed. And, if you really feel the need to play a game of ninepins, then you are in the right state. Just another reason to love Texas.
Original bowling balls lacked a certain something.
You might take your beautiful, perfectly weighted bowling balls and their conveniently placed finger holes for granted, but you probably won’t after you learn this fun fact: Bowling balls used to lack, well, pretty much everything modern day bowling balls possess.
For example, bowling balls used to be made out of wood and lacked finger holes. One can imagine that they did not roll as smoothly down the bowling lane as today’s more advanced designs. The invention of modern bowling balls with their beautiful swirls and convenient features did not occur until about a century ago. Bowling might be ancient, but the balls are not, and for that we are definitely grateful.
The bowling alley can be the perfect place to unwind with friends and family, have a great first (or second, or third) date, hold an informal meeting, have a bowling alley birthday party, and more. In fact, with its appeal to almost every age and skill level, bowling is the perfect way to have fun with a group.
But the next time you check out the bowling alley, remember how very far bowling has come. From an ancient sport in Egypt 5,000 years ago to a standardized and modern day sport, bowling is weird, fun, and endlessly entertaining.
And, lucky for you, bowling is also one of the attractions at PINSTACK’s fun activities venue. Embrace its history in a modern facility with state-of-the-art bowling lanes, laneside food and beverage service, and a private VIP bowling area. Bowling sure has come a long way.