Bowling has grown to become a popular sport through out the world. In this sport, the player aims to score points by rolling a bowling ball along a flat surface called the lane, to topple the objects stationed at the end of the lane, called as pins. Just like the sport itself, its history is also very interesting. The origin of bowling is claimed to be in ancient Egypt, which was first made evident by the British Anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie and his team of archaeologists, in the 1930s. Let us know more about the history of bowling.
Interesting Information on Background of Bowling
Anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie and his team unearthed a collection of objects from a small child’s grave in ancient Egypt, which indicated towards the existence of some primitive form of bowling. All the artifacts collected from there could be traced back to 3200 BC, making the game more than 5000 years old. However, there are conflicting views on the origination of the game, with many historians believing that bowling evolved much later. As per William Pehle, a German historian, the game of bowling was incepted in Germany around 300 AD.
Bowling was introduced as a religious ceremony in Germany, wherein the monks popularized it amongst the masses, as a customary test of faith. Besides, the existence of bowling was also seen in England during early 1100s. Throughout the country, several variations of bowling, such as half-bowls, skittles and ninepins, were played during the mid 1300s. However, the first documented proof of game was made by the King Edward III in 1366. As per the reference, he imposed a ban on bowling amongst his troops, as it was distracting them from their archery practice.
Afterward, the game gained popularity during the regime of King Henry VIII and was played as a symbol of nobility and social status. Bowling was also popular in America since colonial days. It is also believed that during the 17th century, all the English, Dutch and German settlers imported their own version of bowling to America. During that time, the game involved only nine pins, which were regularly played in a specific area of New York that is still known as ‘Bowling Green’. However, in 1841, Connecticut banned ninepins because of their gambling implications.
Bowling gained orientation when restaurateur Joe Thum brought together the representatives of the various regional bowling clubs. With this, the American Bowling Congress was born on September 9, 1895, at Beethoven Hall in New York. This brought standardization as well as the organization of major national competitions. Though the game of bowling became quite popular amongst women by the latter half of the nineteenth century, the American Bowling Congress was restricted only for men.
This gave rise to the Women's International Bowling Congress in 1917 in St. Louis. It was initiated by the proprietor Dennis Sweeney, who gathered women leaders from around the country to form the then called ‘Women's National Bowling Association’. Along the same time, a major leap was seen in the bowling technology. Initially, the balls used were primarily made from lignum vitae, a very hard wood. The scenario changed in 1905 as the first rubber ball, the "Evertrue" was introduced. Following this, in 1914, the Brunswick Corporation promoted the Mineralite ball, hyping its ‘mysterious rubber compound’.
In 1952, the Federation Internationale de Quilleurs was formed to administer amateur bowling. The federation sponsored a world championship tournament in three zones - American, European and Asian, at a gap of every four years. The year 1965 saw the prestigious World Cup and in the 1988 Summer Olympics, bowling was accepted as a demonstration sport. Moreover, the automatic pinspotter, invented in 1940s, revolutionized the bowling game as well as industry. With this, the first world youth tenpin championships began in 1990 and continues till date.