History of Bowling


Even with bowling being the object of satire in movies such as Kingpin and Big Lebowski, it is a genuine sport AND may be one of the oldest sports in history. It is one of the most popular forms of recreation on the planet with over 100 million people in more than 90 countries playing the game.

In the 1930 British Anthropologist Sir Flinders Petrie became the first to discover evidence of a bowling-like game in a child’s grave in Egypt. These ancient objects have been dated back to 3200 B.C. – making bowling over 5,000 years old! There is controversy that critics put the start of bowling much later to 300 A.D. in Germany. Either way it has stood the test of time.

The first written mention of a bowling-like sport can be traced to the year 1366 in England. Supposedly King Edward III outlawed the game in order to keep his troops focused on their archery practice. The sport was all the rage and legal during King Henry VIII’s reign. There have been many variations of the sport that have come from Europe including Italian bocce, French pentanque, and even Britain’s lawn bowling. The REAL question: who introduced bowling to the United States?

The English, Dutch and German settlers all brought their own versions of the game to the New World. The earliest mention of American bowling came in the form of a quote from Rip Van Winkle when Rip wakes up to the sounds of “ninepins” The tenpin game origin is still unknown but by the late 1800’s it was very popular in New York, Ohio and Illinois, and the first standardized rules of the game were established in 1895.

More tid bits of history…

  • The first Mineralite ball was introduced in 1914 by the Brunswich Corporation.
  • First commercial installation of a pin setting machine came in 1952, making bowling pin boys obsolete.
  • First broadcast of “Championship Bowling” by NBC in the 1950’s
  • TV shows “Make that Spare”, “Bowling for Dollars”, and “Celebrity Bowling” helped make this sport very popular.



NOTE: This article was done as a part of a class project. It is a blog for a fictitious bowling company.

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