Sports 4 The Blind


History and Background

     Artifacts of the stone age indicating that people of primitive Europe rolled rocks at pointed stones or bones of animals, certifies bowling to be one of the oldest forms of recreation and competition. History records show that the ancient polynesians played Ula Maika, a game in which rounded stones were rolled at flat stone discs at a distance of 60 feet. While no exact date for bowling's beginning can be determined, the discovery of bowling instruments in the tomb of an Egyptian boy indicated the game had its beginning as far back as 5200 BC.

     Modern bowling had its origin in Europe, in the northern provinces of Italy. Here, the Romans played a game similar to the present Italian lawn bowling game of Bocce Ball. Bowling at pins originated as a religious ceremony when parishioners rolled rocks at clubs, designated the Heide or Heathen. That ceremony was discontinued in the 5th Century. However, clerics modified the procedures and used the game for sport and recreation, hitting pins with a ball. Ultimately, rules were changed to include as many pins as there were players in the game. Later, larger balls were used and the game became popular with the nobility and upper class.

     Variations of the game, such as skittles, shovel board, half-bowl, basgue and bowls soon spread throughout Europe, where the games were first played outdoors on grassy later on clay alleys.

     By 1200 a single wooden board comprised the surface. Soon sheds were built over the alley to protect participants from the weather. In 1455 the first indoor wooden lanes were constructed in London. During this period the number and weight of pins and balls varied according to the materials available.

     Martin Luther brought some order to the game when he wrote the first known rules for bowling and established the number of pins 9, thus standardizing this game which soon became the favorite game in his native Holland.

     The Dutch settlers on Manhattan Island introduced the game of nine pins in the American Colonies in the 1620's, where the game flourished to the extent an official bowling green was established at Battery Park in New York City. This area is still known today as bowling green, and some games are still played there. Ninepins spread throughout the colonies and probably attained its peak of popularity by 1840. Until consruction of the Knickerbocker alleys in New York city in 1840, all games were played outdoors or under sheds.

     The Knickerbocker was the first known indoor bowling lane in the united States. Because of heavy wagering on matches, gamblers eventually gained control of the game and regulated it rigidly. Rampant gambling caused the state of Connecticut to outlaw the game of ninepins in 1840, with New York, Massachusetts and other eastern states soon following suit.

     No one knows who originated the game of ten pins, as the game suddenly appeared in new York in the early 1820's. It rapidly gained popularity when nine pins was outlawed. Nine pins were set in 3 rows of 3 in a diamond formation, with a point of the diamond facing the bowler. The additional pin was added, the back pin of the diamond moved, and the triangle we now know was formed.

7 8 9 10

  4 5 6

   2 3


     While popularity of ten pins grew, the game lacked standardization until 1875 when the National Bowling Congress was organized. This group soon went out of existence, but historically it stands as the first organization to call for a set of specific game rules and standardization of equipment. It wasn't until 1895 when a regulatory organization, the American Bowling Congress (USBC ) was established that the game of ten pins was regulated and promoted. This organization, with headquarters in Greendale, Wisconsin, boasts a membership today of over 10 million male ten pin bowlers.

     The Women's International Bowling Congress (WIBC was organized in 1916 as the governing body for women in ten pin bowling. The WIBC is currently headquartered with the USBC in Greendale, Wisconsin and is still an organization of women operated by women for the benefit of women bowlers.

     Both regulatory organizations have programs for junior, Senior and Collegiate bowlers. They also conducty annual tournaments and organize teams for international competition

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