Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Real All-Average-American Sport

Many people say that baseball is the all-American sport. It's "as American as apple pie." In actuality, both apple pie and baseball have ties to Europe. Baseball is just a water-downed version of cricket. Apple pie originated in the Netherlands. There are several Dutch paintings that predate the discovery of America that depict people are serving apple pie.

Others may say that basketball is the real All-American sport. Basketball was born and bred on American soil. While it is true that basketball was invented in the US in 1891, it does not exemplify the American culture.

The true all-American sport represents the average citizen. I'm talking about a sport where someone could play a great round whilst a cigarette is dangling from their lips. I'm talking about a sport where the only performance-enhancing drug is beer. I'm talking about bowling.

Even though it is said that bowling originated in Egypt and was reborn in Germany, it has been adopted and molded to the American standard. It is a sport you can only play indoors, most likely under flickering halogen lights that illuminate a sea of plywood and vinyl. Unlike baseball and football, everyday is a good day to bowl. Bowling is synonymous with fries, cigarettes, and beerguts. A 65-year-old diabetic overweight man could be a God in the sport of bowling. It requires little physical exertion, some concentration, and a good amount of hand-eye coordination.

While football will always be my favorite sport to watch, bowling is my favorite sport to play.

I used to bowl a lot when I was young. My grandmother lived with us during the week, and in the summers she would often take us to the bowling alley down the street. I was also taking piano lessons at around the same age. This not only helped my hand-eye coordination, but also gave me another reasons to keep my nails short.

Now I grow my nails out and my wrist has lost a lot of strength. I can still throw the ball straight down the lane, but not as consistently as once before. I used to be able to play every single frame with my ball hitting the center pin. Nowadays, maybe 50 percent of my rolls touch the center.

Despite my recent shortcomings, I am still able to enjoy myself, if only for the food and conversation. I think that the fries at Bowl America are perhaps the best in the world. The perpetual noise and hoopla of the alley always give topics for conversation.

And sometimes, it's just nice to high-five the fat hand of 350-lb Wilford Brimley lookalike as he jiggles with joy over rolling a perfect game.

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