League bowling is about more than just the score

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Thanks to the generosity of this paper, I’ve been able to share my passion of sports with you over the last several years. Most of you who read these columns with any regularity know that this time of year means two things for me: First, I’m a huge Chicago Bears fan, and second, along with the return of the NFL season, comes the bowling season.

I know for at least the last 23 years, I’ve spent Tuesday nights from September through the middle of April at one of our local bowling centers. I began by joining a team called “Duffy’s Boys” at Fairview Lanes. My friend Larry Moeller invited me to join that team back before my oldest daughter was born. She’ll be 23 in January. Sadly, many of Duffy’s Boys have since passed away.

Since then, I’ve been on leagues at Don Carter Lanes, Bowl More, Strike at Ritches, and where I currently bowl, Cherry Bowl. A lot of things have changed over the years. Most notably, and much to my delight, there are no longer any ash trays at the lanes. I’m not sure I would have stayed on a league this long if smoking were still allowed in the bowling centers. In my opinion, it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to the sport of bowling.

Inflation has more than doubled the cost of our weekly fee. I’m pretty sure when I first started we paid $7 a week. Our currently weekly fee is $16. That covers three games of bowling and our prize fund. I still think it’s a pretty good value.

Another thing that has endured significant changes over the last two decades is the equipment. There are multiple different ball compositions used in today’s modern bowling balls. There’s a different type of ball for every lane condition imaginable. It’s not uncommon to see a league bowler show up each week with two, three or more bowling balls. That used to be the exception, rather than the rule.

I’m still old school in that regard. I’m using a ball that is at least 10 years old, it’s the one and only ball I bring to the lanes each week. I’m too cheap to spend hundreds of dollars on the new, high-tech models. I happen to like my antique ball, and besides, I still manage to average between 190 and 200 with the Fred Flintstone model. I do take some good-natured ribbing about using such an outdated ball. I figure I’ll keep using it until it cracks into more than one piece.

Carlson Plumbing is the team that I’m currently on and have bowled with for the past dozen or more years. The core of our team has been together for that period of time, and I consider those guys and their families close friends. Our friendship has extended well beyond the walls of Cherry Bowl. I’ve grown to know some of their parents, their girlfriends or wives, their children and now, some of their grandchildren. They are far more than just “bowling buddies.” I consider many of them extended family.

Perhaps that explains why I enjoy bowling as much as I do … it’s not just about the score.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Sept. 3-9, 2014, issue

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