Swing and a Miss

    Bowling: the only sport with a third grader’s birthday party next to you

    Thomas DeLapp

    More stories from Thomas DeLapp

    Swing and a Miss
    May 10, 2023

    Photo by Marisa Valdez

    There’s a lot of discourse out in the world about what qualifies as “sports” and what doesn’t. I generally don’t have too many opinions on this. I feel like sports are probably physical. If it has a ball or another similar implement, it’s probably a sport. 

    This rules out ESports, no matter how sweaty the players might get while playing “Super Smash Bros” and “League of Legends.” 

    So I think it’s a reasonable assertion to make that bowling is definitely a sport. Not a high-octane sport, but a sport nonetheless. It’s fun, it’s accessible and it gives unsporting people like myself the rush of an exciting game. 

    Bowling is prominently featured in some truly excellent media like “The Big Lebowski”, which means it totally rocks. Great bowlers (like the Dude)  have some truly wild skills. It takes patience, precision and practice to perform as a professional pin pusher. 

    Plus, bowling is a great opportunity to hang out with your pals. Turns out, as an adult, bowling rocks even more. You can kick back and buy yourself the snacks and drinks your parents would never get you. 

    And how about those fun, psychedelic and sometimes disturbing graphics you get when you get a strike? Those are the cat’s pajamas. So uncanny. So surreal. 

    I like it when you can choose the theme for your TV — I usually go with dinosaurs, if they have them. 

    Bowling, too, is something you can do alone. Most sports require at least one other person — and while bowling is more fun with others, it isn’t necessary. You can take yourself on bowling dates, and get really good so you can beat all your (very real and not imaginary) friends the next time you go bowling together.

    But bowling, I gotta be honest, is so gross. Maybe my hypochondria in this situation has been affected by COVID-19, but I just cannot think about putting my fingies in those three holes. How many other people have put their greasy fingies in those holes? 

    I won’t even speak of the shoes. I don’t trust that spray one iota. 

    So if you are going to bowl, get your own paraphernalia. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the money or dedication to do that, but never fear: there’s another solution.

    Deep in my mind, etched into the squishy, soggy walls of my brain, are the ambient soundscapes of “Wii Sports bowling.” Yes. Many of us know these sounds well. The ultimate vibey music, the satisfying click as you press the A and B buttons to connect your Wii remote. 

    Sometimes, during quiet moments, these sounds bounce around my head like a bowling ball smacking the bumpers (incidentally, this is my actual real-life bowling strategy). 

    Recently, I’ve been getting my bowling fix with the new “Nintendo Switch Sports,” an update to the Wii classic — my athleticism doesn’t extend very far beyond my living room. 

    It’s fun! It feels more accurate and realistic than the Wii version, but there’s also an evil game mode where they put obstacles in the lane. It sucks. 

    So when it comes to bowling, there are options. It doesn’t require a high level of physical strength and can be a very fun thing to do with your friends. But please, oh please, use hand sanitizer.

    DeLapp can be reached at [email protected].