When bowling was king

Bowling has made something of a comeback in recent years from the decline it had been suffering since its heyday back in the 1950s and 1960s. With the simultaneous rise of “disco bowling” and irony-as-lifestyle, more people than ever – both the cool and the uncool – are taking to the lanes of America’s alleys (recently re-dubbed “fun centers”).

I hadn’t realized it, but when I was flipping through some of the second-tier sports channels the other day, I discovered there’s still such a thing as the Professional Bowlers Association and they still have what can loosely be described as a TV contract. I watched only a few minutes, and this is some of what I saw.

The "king" on his "throne"

The "king" on his "throne"

There’s this “King of Bowling” title or, more accurately, “the King of Bowling Powered by Amp Energy series.” The reigning king sits on a lane-side throne, wearing a goofy crown and holding a scepter, while pretenders battle before him for a chance to challenge the sovereign one-on-one. In the episode I saw, a chunky guy named Wes Malott from Pflugerville, Texas, sat regally above the fray while Walter Ray Williams won a “thrilling” opening match over Bill O’Neill. The two were tied after regulation and were forced to engage in a five-ball sudden-death “roll-off”. Williams emerged as the eventual winner.

When Williams took on Malott for the $10,000 first prize, he found himself the victim of a royal whirlwind. Malott bowled a perfect 300 for the victory.

“When it was over, I was kinda thinking to myself, what else could you ask for after the season I’ve had?” Malott said. “I’ve accomplished every goal I had except a major. Shooting 300 on TV? You never think about it.”

You can say that again.

“There was definitely some excitement,” Malott continued in a slight over-statement. “I just tried to focus and do the job. I’ve seen some guys fall on the ground and cry after bowling a 300 on TV. Some guys jump in the other guy’s arms. I’m not going to jump into someone’s arms.”

The PBA will award over $4.3 million in prize money this year during its Lumber Liquidators PBA National Tour. In addition to that pathetic excuse for a title sponsor, other predictable brands contributing to the tour include Flomax (the prostate medicine that improves urine flow), Motel 6, Bayer Aspirin, Denny’s and Go RVing.

Watch this space for a future review of the sport’s website, http://www.pba.com.

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3 Responses to “When bowling was king”

  1. crabdaddy Says:

    Oh man, after readin this post Crabdaddy gotta go pop in his copy of the greatest bowlin movie ever made “Kingpin” with Woody Harrelson it’s classic. (Maybe the only bowlin movie ever made._

  2. jdhays Says:

    The “king” looks vaguely like Ernie McCracken. After reading this I’m tempted to go down to the local fun center tonight for some “moonlight” bowling with the blacklights and disco balls and loud music. I’ve done this once or twice before and it’s great–no one can see you (or cares) when you pull a real Munson.

  3. Michael Kelley Says:

    Nothing blows my mind anymore.How you can take a high school dropout scrub and turn him into the PBA tours high average leader just like you can fake remorse and understanding back to another while he picks apart what it takes to create a 9000 year human ecosystem and live that long.

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