NATIONAL BOWLING DAY
National Bowling Day is observed annually on the second Saturday in August. While it is possible that bowling style games existed in ancient civilizations around the world, we likely owe the modern game of bowling to the land of Germany. Kegels were used much like batons for protection or sport. They would place them at the end of an alley and roll a stone, attempting to knock them down. It was believed, that by knocking down the kegel, their sins would be forgiven.
Other lawn games such as bocce and petanque may also be precursors to bowling. American literature’s first mention of ninepins is in Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle. Bowling, like many sports, was fodder for gambling and often came under scrutiny. In 1841, Connecticut passed a law prohibiting ninepin bowling alleys. Circumventing the law, alleys added one pin to the line-up. Very little about the game has changed since.
In 1905, the first rubber compound bowling ball was introduced. Wooden balls made of “lignum vitae” were used up until then, but this modern ball launched a whole new era of bowling. Bowling was featured as a demonstration sport in 1988’s Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea. However, it has never returned to the Olympics.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Gather a group of friends and family and go bowling together. Use #NationalBowlingDay to post on social media and alert others.
The Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, Inc. sponsored the first National Bowling Day in association with the General Cigar Company and NBC-TV in 1956. It was the accumulation of hundreds of bowling tournaments in 48 states attracting millions of bowlers across the country raising money for the American Red Cross. The televised Final Bowl Off was held on National Bowling Day on October 14, 1956, in Macon County, Illinois and featured bowling stars Bill Lilian and Anita Cantaline of Detroit.
The event was never repeated, but National Bowling Day traditions have started once more. Continuing in the same spirit as the 1956 event, the modern era National Bowling Day takes care of others while taking down those pins. One example is the Million Pin Challenge. Donations will help provide half a million meals to Feeding America to fight domestic hunger.