Sport of bowling has long history

MIL season starts September 5


Photo by public domain

The origins of the all-American bowling we know today can be traced back to Egypt more than 5,000 years ago.

The Maui Interscholastic League bowling season begins this Saturday, when the Warriors start by facing their toughest competitors in the two-year history of the team — the Baldwin Bears.

To get in the mood for the season, read on and learn a little about bowling’s history.

Bowling is an all-American sport that’s been around as long as any of us has been alive. Who knew that it could have originated in Egypt?

Sir Flinders Petrie, a British anthropologist, found a bowling ball and pins in an Egyptian child’s grave in the 1930s. These crude versions of the bowling objects we use today are dated all the way back to 3200 B.C.

Historian William Pehle claimed that bowling began in Germany in 300 A.D. There is also evidence that an older form of bowling existed in England in 1366, because it’s said that King Edward III outlawed it so that his troops would focus more on practicing archery.

King Henry VIII, who reigned from 1509 to 1547, brought it back. During that time there were ball and pin games that made a primitive version of the bowling we know today.

The first mention of bowling in America came in 1812 from the famous book Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving, with the phrase “crashing ninepins” in the story, and a lawn bowling site in New York, was the first permanent bowling area in the country.

Bowling grew in popularity, and in 1841 ninepin games got banned in Connecticut due to all the gambling associated with it; however, a tenpin version of bowling emerged in the late 1800s that served as a loophole for people to keep playing the game.

In 1895, Joe Thum got representatives from bowling clubs, and formed the American Bowling Congress. This led to the standardization of bowling and national competitions. A new bowling organization called the Women’s National Bowling Association was formed in 1917, and from there the game grew even more popular in the U.S.

Through the growth of bowling technology in the 1900s, like the bowling ball going from hard wood to rubber, and the mass production of Gottfried Schmidt’s automatic pin spotter in 1952 that eliminated the need for pin boys, the bowling industry flourished.

The first network coverage of bowling came from NBC’s “Championship Bowling” in the 1950’s. In 1961, ABC telecast the Pro Bowlers Association, and the Pro Bowlers Tour became very popular in ABC sports broadcasting, followed by the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour.

Today, bowling is still both a competitive and recreational sport used all over the world.

If you’re planning on checking out a bowling meet or two this season, watch the accompanying video for some tips on making the most of your visit to the Maui Bowling Center, the only bowling alley on Maui.