Why Bowling is Anything But ‘Non-Essential’

by Bob Johnson 0

THE GREAT SINGER-songwriter, Tom Russell, wrote a song about the United States-Mexico border long before President Trump was elected. The song is titled, “Who’s Gonna Build Your Wall?”

It is not a political song at all. In fact, Russell includes these lyrics: “Now I ain’t got no politics, so don’t lay that rap on me.” Likewise, I ain’t got no politics when I tell you that any governor who has deemed a bowling center to be a “non-essential” business at any time during the COVID-19 pandemic simply does not know what he or she is talking about.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to special-needs men, women and children, who find that the activity of bowling is both therapeutic and social. (Likewise, bowling centers are not non-essential to the parents and caretakers of special-needs individuals.)

Bowling centers are not non-essential to America’s hospitalized veterans, who depend on donations from the Bowlers to Veterans Link to fund much-needed (and appreciated) therapeutic and recreational equipment and programs.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to those diagnosed with breast cancer, who gain hope from the research-funding revenue generated by the annual Bowl for the Cure event.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to countless groups such as the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico, which depend on bowl-a-thons to provide critical funding for their programs.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to community service organizations, many of which use the facilities for weekly or monthly meetings or luncheons.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to America’s youth, many of whom depend on scholarships earned through bowling to help fund their college educations.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to older teens and young adults, many of whom have gained valuable job experience by working at centers.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to young entrepreneurs like Brad Miller, who found a way to purchase a 16-lane center in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., when he was just 22 years old, and to operate it until the mandated, prolonged shutdown by Governor Andrew Cuomo forced him to throw in the towel.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to local school districts, many of which offer bowling as a P.E. class activity, an official sport, or both.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to boys and girls who may not be “good enough” to play other sports, but find a welcoming atmosphere, supportive coaches and an opportunity to grow physically, mentally and socially on the lanes.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to parents, who work with centers to plan and host children’s birthday parties that are both fun and affordable.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to middle-aged men and women who have “graduated” from other sports and depend on their weekly league sessions for exercise and camaraderie.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to H.R. professionals and office managers in search of a fun activity and friendly atmosphere for a company party during the holidays.

Bowling centers are not non-essential to couples seeking a fun, affordable “date night” away from the kids.

And bowling centers are not non-essential to senior citizens — identified as among the more vulnerable targets of the coronavirus — who depend on them for, in many cases, their only form of life-extending social interaction. It is not an exaggeration to state that many of our seniors live for bowling.

We would never make light of the serious nature of the coronavirus or the lives that have been lost during the pandemic. Since it first hit our shores, much has been learned about the virus and how it is spread, and bowling proprietors are prepared to operate their centers with the safety of their employees and their customers top of mind.

But they can’t do it if they are, essentially, handcuffed by their governors. A center allowed to operate at 25% capacity today is a center that may not be able to continue operating at all a few months down the road.

Honestly, the one thing we may have learned with certainty from this undeniably difficult time in our history is that the only truly non-essential “things” are America’s over-empowered governors — Democrat, Republican or otherwise.

This edition of Hall of Fame bowling writer Bob Johnson's "Strikes Me" column will appear in the October 2020 issue of Bowlers Journal International. To subscribe now for much more of the industry's best coverage of bowling news and incisive instructional tips and analysis, go here: https://www.bowlersjournal.com/bowlers-journal-subscriptions/

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.

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