Bowling, the blue-collar national sport and most favored form of cultural expression in the Midwest, is without a doubt, a commie-lib form of competition and a major epicenter of socialism in terms of recreational sports.
Consider this. It is the sport of such less-than-tasteful cultural icons as Fred Flintstone, Laverne & Shirley, and Roseanne Barr. In my opinion, it is the official proletarian pastime. A pastime manifested via the display of uncouth short-sleeved pink or yellow shirts with bad, lumpy embroidery on the back. No member of the bourgeoisie would ever wear such hideousness upon their torso.
In fact, no bourgeoisie would ever bowl. Darrin on Bewitched was a golfer, that rich old white guy with two adopted black kids on Diff’rent Strokes was a handball player, and I don’t think that Bill Gates bowls in a Moonlight Doubles league with his wife. If he did, I think we’d have to appeal to Joel Klein to break them up into two teams for fear of giving them an unfair advantage of some sorts, especially if Bill sponsored his own league to promote his bowling uniform business, and packaged bowling shirts with free bowling gloves, robbing his fellow bowlers of choice.
I was determined to find out why people bowl, because I just don’t get the fascination with it. The scoring system doesn’t make any sense, and neither do those ugly shirts. Besides, I was suspicious about this goofy handicapping thing that they use to make league play “competitive”. It all seemed downright socialist if you ask me.
So as I embarked upon a sort of educational mission throughout a few bowling alleys in the area — several years ago — to watch bowler-friends in league play, I discovered how the precariously politicized nature of the scoring system used by most recreational bowling leagues deprives the superior competitor of his/her advantage — all in the name of equality.
Let us take a closer look at this Marxian concept of reducing the supremacy of the most talented to the level of those who are less inclined to achieve greatness on the old hardwood lanes.
In amateur bowling leagues, a scoring system of “handicapping” is often used (no relation to the Americans With Disabilities Act type of handicapped) to “level” the playing field. This in fact, assures equality from the get-go. In short, this is how a handicapping system might work: the bowlers carry an “average” score with them throughout the season. This is an average score usually taken either from the first few weeks of their bowling season, or carried over from their previous bowling league, if applicable. When bowlers meet in league play, those with the higher averages must spot their opposition — with the lower average — the number of pins that is equal to the difference in their averages.
For example, let’s say that Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx, together as a team, have a bowling average of 220 (they were notoriously lousy bowlers!), and their opponents of the day, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine (playing Marx & Engels through a time warp, of course), had averages adding up to 360. Well our friends of freedom would have to spot them no-good collectivists 140 pins before the match even got underway.
So somebody tell me what’s the point in fine tuning your skills to become the best that you can be? Do you think that Carl Lewis gave those skinny, slow white guys from Great Britain a head start in the 100-meter dash in 1984?
A slogan typically used to persuade lousy bowlers to show up on a Friday night and bowl lousy: “Thanks to bowling’s handicapping system, a bowler’s individual average makes little difference. You can be a vital member of your team no matter what your average is.” Thank goodness for “fairness and self-esteem boosting, eh?
This way, the competitive spirit of man is replaced with a system of social equity to maintain a “more fair” means for everybody to have a chance to win in spite of their shortcomings against their more skilled competitors. Some leagues will spot 100% of the pins, while some may only spot 80% or so of the difference in averages, making them a little less socialistic in nature. Imagine if the John Elway-led Denver Broncos would have had to spot their Super Bowl opponents a touchdown or two, due to the advantage of having a more potent offense.
Typically, leftist America’s pursuit for utopian equality leads us toward reducing the masses to the lowest common denominator present therein. In bowling however, the less talented proletariat is “handicapped” an additional slice of the achiever’s pie; brought up to a level that is unearned.
One must wonder if that appalling thing known as the Americans with Disabilities Act could apply here: I bowl lousy, therefore I’m disabled, so therefore I get a head start. Gimme some of your points. A redistribution of points, of sorts. If Bill Gates is a lousy bowler, maybe he should try suing under the ADA.
So, in light of all the evidence to have come before me in my desperate search for some shred of laissez-faireism in the world of ten-pins, I can only feel sad that my quest has led me down the path of yet another anti-achiever, equality-minded form of a centralized bureaucratic system, wielding authority over those rugged individuals who would otherwise rule the roost, or play first fiddle, as some would say.
Oh well…I suppose there are always more competitive recreational activities in which those who desire more serious gamesmanship could partake in. I wonder — how do they keep score in shuffleboard?
Karen De Coster is a politically incorrect CPA, and an MA student in economics at Walsh College in Michigan.