John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs The nights are getting colder, leaves are taking on the shades of autumn, and there are a few more hungry bears cruising the streets in Old Town looking for some sweet treats to carry them through the winter.
But nothing says fall like the sound of a bowling ball rolling down the wooden lanes at Snow Bowl.
For years I’ve kicked off fall by returning to league bowling. It’s as much a sign that fall has arrived as the first aspen leaf floating to the grass of my still-green yard. League bowlers, including myself, returned from our short summer hiatus last week for the start of a new season.
You might think that getting back to a sport we all love would be cause for celebration. But there always are a few grumbles and comments from the dedicated group of bowlers who have made the Thursday Night Men’s League a part of their winter. In other words, there always are complaints when the weather outside still is nice enough to play a round of golf.
But behind those complaints are a bunch of guys ready to roll into a new season. For the next nine months that same group of guys will gather once a week to throw a few games and hang out Thursday nights.
Every team wants to win the league title, but there is no question that most of the people who bowl in leagues are not doing it to get their name on a trophy at the end of the season. Bowling is a social sport where most of the participants simply want to have a good time for a few hours and hopefully roll above their average.
Bowling is one of those games that non-bowlers have a hard time understanding. They can’t grasp that rolling a 15- or 16-pound ball more than 60 feet down an oil-covered lane week after week can be a challenge. Apparently, bowling doesn’t have the same curb appeal as its recreational cousin golf — this despite the fact that the two games have more in common than most people will admit.
My dad introduced me to bowling as a child and I developed a life-long love of the game during my youth. I gave it up for a few years in college, but I started bowling again when I moved back to Steamboat Springs.
Since then bowling has become the traditional start of fall for me. I don’t always look forward to going back because it means cold temperatures, snow and winter can’t be far behind. But for more than 19 years bowling has helped carry me through the long Steamboat winter.
I know there will be times when I get frustrated with the game, and times when I feel more like throwing my ball in the trash can than throwing it at pins. But that’s the cool thing about league bowling. If you happen to have a bad week there always will be a chance to improve seven days later.
It’s time to celebrate fall, and for me, it’s time to return to the game I love. And hopefully that means a few more strikes this season.
To reach John F. Russell call, 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com