John F. Russell: Rolling into a new bowling season

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John Russell

John Russell's sports column appears Sundays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by John here.

— On Thursday night, there was a reason to celebrate. There was a reason to get excited and a reason to be optimistic about a new season.

It was opening night.

I’m not talking about the Denver Broncos rolling past the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field to kickoff the NFL season. No, I’m talking about returning to the Snow Bowl for the start of the Thursday Night Men’s Bowling League. It’s the place I spend most of my Thursday nights in the colder months in Steamboat Springs. Sure I complain about having to show up every week, but I enjoy bowling. The alternative would be to head home after work and watch television.

There was a time when more than a few readers could relate to what I’m writing about. A generation ago, bowling was the place to be after a long day pushing a pencil or working in a factory.

But in today’s world, it seems like bowling struggles to find a new audience. It seems like the game has been lost in a generation where there just isn’t enough time, a generation where there are too many computers, too many distractions. There are days people are consumed with whatever their children are doing. Many more prefer to spend a few hours on the back of a mountain bike before summer slips away. I still run into a lot of people who open bowl, but leagues these days are much smaller than when I started.

That’s OK. I get it.

But for a guy who grew up around bowling alleys, I think the game still has plenty to offer. Truth is, anyone who can roll a ball down a lane and is committed to showing up most weeks can bowl. Thanks to automatic score keeping, there is no reason to figure out the details of the game, and if you show up for a few weeks, most longtime bowlers will fill you in on the etiquette and the details of the game.

Bowling is a game that rewards consistency and improvement. It’s a game that requires focus and discipline. It’s also a game that offers a chance at perfection every single game. Sure, bowlers compete on teams, but once a bowler steps on the approach, it’s just the bowler, the lane and the pins. Success is measured by how well you roll the ball, and although it seems easy enough to roll 12 strikes in a row, there are not many people who have done it.

But on Thursday night, it wasn’t the chance of a high score that brought me back to the bowling alley. What brought me back was my commitment to the other four guys I bowl with and the chance to spend my Thursday evening playing the game I’ve enjoyed for most of my life. For me, that makes for a pretty good reason to celebrate another season.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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