Bowling has been popular with millions of people for thousands of years!
Bowling balls and pins were found in the tomb of an Egyptian king who died in 5,200 B.C. The ancient Polynesians bowled on lanes that were 60 feet long, the same as today.
Bowling was part of a religious ceremony in fourth century Germany. Those who could knock down the pins were said to be of good character. Those who missed had to do penance. Even Martin Luther was a bowler. British kings Edward II and Richard II banned bowling because they said people were wasting too much time playing the sport. But Sir Francis Drake played a game of bowls before he went to war against the Spanish Armada.
Bowling has been popular in America since Colonial days. The British imported lawn bowling but German settlers introduced ninepins, the ancient game that evolved into today’s modern tenpin sport.
Because of confusion over playing standards, the top bowlers of the 19th century decided that the sport needed a standard set of rules. They started the American Bowling Congress in 1895. The Women’s International Bowling Congress was started in 1916.
Bowling has survived and grown into the world’s second most played sport, with over 100 million participants annually.
Records in Sydney’s Mitchell Library show that the game of tenpin bowling commenced in Australia in 1885 at the Washington Bowling Saloon in Ballarat, Victoria. The game spread throughout Australia with manually operated centres in many major population areas. With the advent of automatic pinsetting machinery the popularity of the game exploded. The first fully automatic centre opened in Hurstville, Sydney in 1960.
Bowling was an Exhibition Sport in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. In 1992 and 1996, a modern bowling facility was installed in the Athletes’ Village at Barcelona and Atlanta where champion bowlers conducted exhibitions, competed, and offered instructional sessions for the benefit of Olympic athletes.
In September 1998, the sport made its historic inaugural appearance at the Commonwealth Games, held in Malaysia. 18 Commonwealth countries in a state of the art Centre, Pyramid Bowl, in KuaIa Lumpur, contested tenpin bowling. Medals were awarded in five events: Men’s and Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Men’s and Women’s Singles. Australia’s team performed spectacularly, achieving the highest tenpin bowling medal tally in the Games with 3 Gold, 1 Silver and 1 Bronze.
The national governing body of the sport in Australia is Tenpin Bowling Australia Limited (TBA). In close association with the Australian Sports Commission, TBA has established a modern corporate structure and adopted a new Constitution and By Laws for the sport. A not-for-profit company, TBA has been established to provide skills development, administer the rules and equipment specifications, provide coaching as well as generally develop and promote the sport of tenpin bowling nationally. TBA is the second largest bowling organization in the world, providing governance for approximately 140,000 affiliated bowlers across the nation.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics consistently ranks tenpin bowling in the country’s top ten participation sports. The “Australians’ Sporting Interest” survey – The Sweeney Sports Report 2000/2001 showed tenpin bowling with a 20% rate of Total Population Who Participate, close to Cycling (21%) and Golf (22%).