12 facts you probably did not know about bowling

Bowling is a great game loved by so many people in America and Europe. It has been enjoyed by different cultures throughout the history of man as you will see. It involves trying to hit the greatest number of pins by rolling a ball down a runway.

Here we are going to discuss some facts about bowling which you may find surprising and interesting. We hope you enjoy some of our top facts about bowling which you probably did not know about.

1. Bowling is probably older than you think

Bowling maybe way older than you think. The British archaeologist, Sir Flanders Petrie in the 1930s discovered some objects in an ancient Egyptian grave which looked like they could have used for an ancient form of bowling. The grave was dated to be somewhere around 3200 BC. If it is true that the ancient Egyptians used this ball for bowling, then that would mean that the sport of bowling is more than 5000 years old. There are other known variations of bowling throughout history.

Old Bowling

For example, there was a kind of outdoor bowling done in Germany sometime around 400 AD. There were also other forms of bowling during medieval times. The modern form of bowling as we know it or something very similar to the modern form started in Germany. However, most of the rules of modern bowling that still apply up till today started in New York somewhere around 1875.

2. bowling was once banned in some countries including America

What?! Why would anyone want to ban a fun sport like bowling? Well, that’s probably part of the reason bowling was banned in the first place. But bowling was not actually banned just because it was fun, but because it was associated with gambling. During the 15th century, many soldiers preferred to gamble on bowling games rather than focus on their duty.  When you combine this with the fact that the medieval times were ruled by puritans who frowned on all forms of immorality – including gambling. Bowling combined fun and gambling so yes, bowling actually had the ban coming.

3. It’s illegal to use play 9-pin bowling

Almost all bowling games use 10 pins. Before, bowling games could use anywhere from 3 to 17 pins. In fact, you can use up to 50 pins if you so wish. However, bowling can be a dangerous game that can get you into serious litigation and trouble with the government. The issue is, due to the fact that bowling was fast being associated with gambling, it was banned by the government earlier on. As at the time bowling was banned, 9 pins were commonly used. So “nine-pin” bowling was what was actually banned. Trouble is, 9-pin bowling is still banned until today. So, 10 pins are actually used instead of nine pins. So, next time you want to do something illegal, don’t do drugs, just do nine-pin bowling. Seriously though, do not do anything illegal.

4. You can drill up to 12 holes in a bowling ball

The standard bowling ball has about 3 holes, but you can decide to add more holes if you want to customize your balls. You could have up to 12 holes if you so wish. Why more holes? You may ask. The United States Bowling Congress actually recommends up to 5 additional holes for gripping purposes though a demonstration would be needed to show you can use them; one hole for more balance and up to 5 different vent holes for each ball. If you were to have all these holes in addition to the 3 default holes, there would be some overlap. For example, the three default holes on bowling balls are actually for better grip. Hence, bowling balls can have about 12 holes in total.

5. Modern bowling was initially a religious ritual not a sport

Games Bowling Provence

Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th century AD, these “bowling” rites were held in some churches in Germany. A club or Kegel was placed at one end of a runway. This Kegel (which resembles a modern-day pin) represented the “Heide” – better known as the “Heathen”. In order to cleanse yourself of your sins, you would have to roll a stone at the Kegel. Those who could successfully knock out the Kegel have succeeded in cleansing themselves of sin. So, next time you go bowling, you may be unknowingly cleansing yourself from previous sins. Would probably be fun to have bowling games in your church, right?

6. It was popular among soldiers and kings

Soldier Bowling

In the middle ages, a lot of people were really addicted to bowling. It was a favorite among kings and soldiers. Bowling was first referenced in medieval writings when King Edward III banned his soldiers from bowling because they were paying more attention to bowling than to their archery practice. Remember how our parents banned us from playing video games and grounded us because we were not reading enough? Now, King Edward’s actions are what I would call royal parental guidance.

7. Bowling transformed from an illegal sport to one of the most-loved sports in America

When bowling was introduced in America, it quickly got a lot of love from the public because it was fun. At the time bowling was introduced 9 pins were common. However, what happened to King Edward repeated itself in America as people started gambling with it, some even started avoiding work just to go bowling. Very soon bowling quickly became associated with all the bad stuff like gambling, crime, truancy, and so on which made the government of Connecticut ban 9-pin bowling. However, in order to circumvent this law, bowling games now use 10 pins. As of now, bowling is the third most-played sport in the United States.

8. Bowling balls are not simple to make

The Ways Bowling Balls Can Be Customized

So many people may look at a 300-dollar professional bowling ball and think to themselves “how come this simple ball with a few holes in it cost so much?” The answer lies in how they manufacture modern bowling balls. Bowling balls are not just a simple ball with holes drilled in it – they are quite complex in design. They have specially shaped cores and special fillings to improve hook and balance. The holes are drilled into the ball purposefully either to improve grip, balance or as a vent. So, there you go, bowling balls are not simple balls with random holes drilled inside but have a complex, intricate design.

9. Automatic scorers are needed in bowling because it has a complex scoring system

The scoring system in bowling is quite complex – especially if you want to do it manually. For example, if you hit all 10 pins you get a strike. If you manage to hit six pins you get a spare. Strikes and spares earn you points on the next ball you throw. Adding up all these points especially if you got strikes and scores in a single round can be complex. Automatic scorers help make the scoring process much simpler. However, sometimes the automatic scorer may knock some pins out and the scores will have to be counted manually in order to eliminate the pins the balls knock out. 

10. The heaviest bowling ball ever recorded weighed around 23 pounds

The heaviest bowling ball that can be legally made weighs about 16 pounds. However, the heaviest bowling ball ever thrown was said to weigh about 23 pounds and it was thrown by someone called Joe Leggett. Some people say he was quite accustomed to throwing 18-pound bowling balls. Is that even legal?

11. Japan has the largest bowling center in the world

Japan Bowling

The largest bowling center in the world is the Inazawa Grand Bowl in Japan. It was opened in March 1972 and it has about 116 Brunswick Bowling wooden lanes which were later upgraded to pro bowling lanes in 2010. It can accommodate about 696 bowlers.

12. Some people once thought that bowling was racist – sort of

There was once a petition in 1974 to change the color of bowling pins to blue because someone thought the color could cause racist tendencies. The petition got about 500 thousand signatures. Well, didn’t think anyone would see bowling that way did you?

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