Volume 1, Issue 16
By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez
Fall leagues are starting everywhere and after Labor Day, most bowlers will be in full swing. For those bowlers who are online, some pretty interesting things are happening in bowling. Maybe they bowl one or two times a week, and maybe that's enough entertainment for them. But maybe they have friends and family that span the country or the globe, and want to share the experience of bowling.
The simplest means of staying in touch with other bowlers, is by sending "updates" by e-mail. I've been part of a great group of friends for over a year that share the triumphs and our agonies of our bowling nights. Most of us have met through bowling chat rooms, and found it was easier to come home and send off one update to the group than tell the same story 20 times (especially on those baaaaaaaad nights). The group serves as a built-in fan club and a support system. There is nothing better than coming home and being able to brag just one more time about that nearly perfect game, or when the bottom fell out, receiving one more note that says not to give up.
Bowlers are competitive by nature, and sometimes just talking about scores isn't enough. We feel the need to compare and compete. It seems online bowling leagues are popping up everywhere in several variations. The basic rules follow: Interested bowlers form teams. Teams can be any number of bowlers, and like real leagues can be scratch or handicap. After the teams are formed, members bowl as usual in their league and then come home to report the scores to a person who acts as the league secretary. Scores are combined with their "teammates" who might be from the East Coast, the West Coast, or from another country. The standings are e-mailed to everyone or published as a web page at the end of the week.
The two major differences is whether it's for fun or if the bowlers ante up a prize fund. The bragging-rights-only league is held for the sheer enjoyment of bowling. Scores are sent in on the "honor system." Sure people could fib, but WHY? The greatest thing about these leagues is that without spending the money to bowl another league, I find myself coming home to root for my team who are bowling in different states. I watch my e-mail on the day the league sheet is sent, seeing how my team stands. Even if my real team is hopelessly out of pins to win the game, I'm giving it my all for my online team, never knowing what score we'll need.
Another type bumps the competition up a notch. Instead of "for fun," bowlers use those scores to compete for prize funds. These leagues usually require mailing of verification and a bunch of other "honesty" insurers. Personally, I've been a bit leery of sending real money to bowl a pretend league, while entrusting the prize fund to someone I only have an e-mail address for. Some leagues are starting as the "free" version for a short season with hopes of adding prize fund after they work out the kinks, which might not be a bad idea. If anyone competes in an online league with prize fund, I would be very interested in the results.
If computer games are more appealing, the AMF and Brunswick web sites have games to play, and scores are posted beat-the-boards style. I'm not so sure how fun these games are since my 8-year-old son can trounce me in the 'Tude Bowling game, but I will admit the Cosmic game allows me to avoid the loud music and the fake smoke of the real thing. There are other games available for purchase in computer stores and off the Internet, but honestly, if it's free it's good enough for me. And finally, for the fantasy baseball/fantasy football types, don't forget there is also fantasy bowling. For a fee, players choose professional bowlers from the PBA, PWBA, and PBA Senior tours and earn for prizes based on the pros' performances in national tournaments. The upside of this type of competition is that if someone shoots a really stinky game, at least I don't have to admit it was me!
To everyone starting their fall leagues, have a great season!