Tonight I went bowling and I heard some sad news. The rumor I heard is that the bowling house where I bowled my summer league recently is meeting its wrecking ball demise soon. It’s a real shame, apparently the place is only 10 years old or so. Not only that, I just bowled a pro-am there for a PBA Wild Turkey East regional event in October.
It’s got to be hard on all those who signed up for a league over the last few months only to find their league’s being pulled out from under them. There’s not really enough vacancies at my current house, Seaford Lanes, to cover all these bowlers.
A sad story in some respects. Yes, Seaford will get its Home Depot or Lowe’s or whatever they’re putting up there. I know that it’s probably considered the “highest and best use” for the site, which sits on a relatively busy road but not right on U.S. 13 (that road sort of bypasses the main part of Seaford to the east.) And it’s not unheard of in this country to see a bowling alley go away. Where I lived before in Toledo, both of the former bowling centers that were situated close to the Westfield Shoppingtown were razed for retail establishments.
Now I come from a bowling family. I’m a proud card-carrying member of the United States Bowling Congress and Lower Delaware Bowling Association. My mom and dad were both league bowlers for years and years, they finally stopped just recently because they’re moving to Florida. Both of my brothers bowl, my brother LJ is the proud owner of rings for 298, 299, and 300 games. He, my other brother Tom, and my dad have all even participated in the ABC (now USBC) national tournament. I’m sure someday I will too, my game is starting to improve to that kind of level. Just tonight I got my awards for a set I bowled recently – 75 pins over average game and 140 pins over average series patches, a 200 game key chain, and 600 series card deck. Threw a 658 series (“triple deuce” – all 3 games over 200) with a 159 average. No, I’m not a sandbagger, I suck at converting spares sometimes. Much easier for me to throw a good game when I don’t have to worry about them.
(Note to USBC: Baltimore or Philadelphia would be nice places for your national tournament.)
However, these days there’s fewer and fewer league bowlers out there. Personally, I like having the opportunity to go out and bowl every Friday night. For a lot of folks though, it’s hard to have that kind of commitment in a 24 hour world, and I can understand that. Many houses have abandoned weekend leagues in favor of “glow bowling” where they create more of a party atmosphere. And, since the rolls of league participation and regular bowlers continue to shrink, a lot of houses find themselves sitting on land that’s far less profitable as a bowling center and coveted by retailers who like the idea of a property that already has all of the necessary services there and more than likely sits on a major thoroughfare.
There was a book out a few years back called Bowling Alone. It used that metaphor as an explanation of why Americans aren’t as social as they used to be, prefering to stay inside their houses and entertain themselves. I know how it is…I was married with a child (not once, but twice!) and there were a lot of nights where we ran ourselves ragged keeping up with what we wanted our (step)daughter to do in order to “keep her out of trouble.” Particularly with my first ex-spouse, we tried to do our part in our neighborhood – PTA, helping out with the young’un’s sports teams, Block Watch, etc., etc.
As it turned out, doing for others ruined us in a lot of respects (which is why we’re ex-spouses.) However, I think if the world were run a different way things would be a lot easier. A lot of couples are running themselves ragged because of one major factor: the wife has to work in order to maintain a lifestyle, yet also play mom to a child who ends up being a latchkey kid. I happen to think that moms are more nurturing and really want to be a mom, not necessarily attorney or real estate agent. (Now you can cite my track record as a married guy to know that my advice is worth the cost of this blog.)
It would not bother me a whole lot if people started to take the time and really consider the costs of “having it all.” I’m particularly annoyed by these places like Quicken Loans, who encourage people to take the one tangible asset they have equity in (their home) and borrow against it for yet more “stuff.” Let’s face it – is a big screen TV going to make you closer as a family when it sits silently because Mom’s working, Dad’s online, Johnny sits in his room listening to his iPod, and Sally is out at cheerleading practice?
Maybe if we focused less on “stuff” and more on quality time Mom and Dad can go join the ma and pa league at the local bowling house, grab dinner, and have a nice mini-date every other Saturday night. Or, even better, find an adult-child league and make a family outing from it.
It’s too late to save Strikemaster Lanes. But it’s not too late to reestablish family by cutting back on stuff and adding to quality time by letting Mom be Mom.