By Jef Goodger
Updated March 08, 2017
League bowling is one of the most popular recreational sports in the United States. If you're not a league bowler, chances are you know one, even if you don't think you do. League bowling has given many hours of joy (and frustration) to people since the inception of the sport and continues to do so.
There are leagues available for all types of bowlers. If you're one of the best bowlers in the area, there's a league for you. If you don't care about winning at all, there's a league for you. If you and your significant other want an activity you can do together, there are couples leagues for you. On top of all the leagues bowling alleys administer, you can usually set up your own league at your own center. Bowl the way you want with the people you want.
Still not convinced? Here are the top 10 reasons to join a bowling league:
1. The Characters
You won't believe it until you see it. Even then, you might not believe it. League bowling brings out some of the most colorful, interesting, baffling personalities in the world. You have no idea these people are in your community until you join a bowling league. From unbelievably talented bowlers to inexplicably strange humans, you get a cross-section of society you didn't realize existed.
Typically, you'll find the word "camaraderie" thrown around in team sports, particularly hockey. People past their primes play the games so they can relive the locker-room banter and hilarity. Bowling is no different (except it all happens in the stinky bowling alley rather than the stinky locker room). Bowling leagues, especially with your friends (or strangers who will become your friends), are great ways to spend a few hours a week.
Bowling is fun. Whether league bowling or not, it's fun to bowl. Joining a league keeps you accountable to yourself - you're going to bowl at least once a week.
Small-time gambling is acceptable in most bowling leagues. Often, half your league fees go toward your bowling and the other half goes toward the prize fund. At the end of the season, you and your team will receive prize money based on where you finish. Individual prizes are usually up for grabs, too. Other ways to win a pittance during league bowling involve card games and strike pots.
Can you get fit by bowling? Common perception and stereotypes would suggest you can't. And if bowling once a week is the only bit of exercise you get, then don't expect a sculpted physique by the end of the season. Still, repeatedly hurling a heavy sphere requires strength and endurance, and you can burn a significant number of calories bowling.
Counteract the exercise with pizza.
If bowling isn't enough for you, many bowling alleys have TVs playing whatever most of you want to watch (typically sports). Depending on the time of your league, you can watch entire hockey and baseball games while bowling.
8. USBC Membership
You'll be a part of the United States Bowling Congress, which costs less than $20 a year (and is often hidden in your league fees, so you don't even have to think about it if you don't want to). Membership qualifies you for award magnets (formerly patches) and gives you discounts with various merchants, including hotels and rental cars.
Except on the nights during which you're bowling so poorly you find yourself doing anything but relaxing, the sport can give you a nice respite from the work day or work week. Show up, relax, throw a few frames and have fun.
"Yeah. I bowl." You'll be amazed by how many people are impressed when they find out you bowl in a league.