Helping sport federations grow themselves, their athletes, and their membership

Spotlight on Bowling

A target sport enjoyed by many recreationally and professionally is bowling. The earliest evidence takes us to ancient Egypt through drawings found on a royal tomb as far back as 5200 B.C. Further remnants were discovered of actual bowling balls from the Egyptian protodynastic period. This period was between 3200 to 3000 B.C. and was characterised by a process of political unification, which lead to the formation of a single state that began the Early Dynastic Period. A further discovery made in 1895 in Naqada in Egypt, was a closer resemblance to the game of skittles. They were nine alabaster vase-shaped figures. The balls were made either from porcelain or wrapping the husks of grains in leather and binding it with string. The weight of the porcelain balls would suggest these were rolled along the ground rather than thrown. Going back 2000 years to the Roman Empire, a game where stone objects were tossed to land as near as possible to another target object, later evolved to become the well-known Bocce played all over Italy and many other nations today. In a similar way, during the 1200s lawn bowling emerged in England with the oldest-surviving known bowling green in Southampton.  

About two hundred years later, roofs were first built over lawn bowling lanes in London to turn bowling into an all-weather game. In Germany these were called kegelbahns. By now bowling lanes and pins were becoming more prominent and it was Protestant Reformation founder Martin Luther who first set the number of pins to nine. These generally varied between 3 to 17 in matches. When Henry Hudson of the Dutch East India Company first discovered Hudson Bay in 1609, it was thought he also brought a form of lawn bowling with him. Moving on three hundred years and the sport had become more and more established. The oldest surviving ten-pin bowling alley was first opened in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1908. A year later the Europe’s first ten-pin bowling alley was opened in Sweden, but the game failed to catch on in the rest of Europe until after WWII.   

Going back to 1926, it became the first attempt to unify the sport under the same set of rules with the formation of the International Bowling Association (IBA). Today World Bowling is the highest recognised international governing body for the sport of bowling. This includes Tenpin, Ninepin and Parabowling with representation across five continents and a membership of 114 nations. By 1979 the organisation was recognised by the International Olympic Committee and forty years later by the International Paralympic Committee. The World Ninepin Bowling Association was formed in 1973 and is now an associated member of World Bowling. World Bowling oversee the continuous growth of the sport and the management major competitions like World Championships and the World Tour. 

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