Would you go bowling if they changed the rules? (ThinkStock)
Would you go bowling if they changed the rules?
Lexile

About a month and a half ago, Kevin Dornberger and his Swedish friend Christer Jonsson were watching a tournament in Hong Kong. They made it through most of the afternoon before Jonsson, the secretary general of the World Tenpin Bowling Association, looked at Dornberger, the president of World Bowling.

"This is boring," he said.

Dornberger nodded his head emphatically. He has bowled since he was eight, had a 40-plus-year competitive career and rolled 16 perfect 300 games. Now he heads the sport's governing body.

"I've watched more world championships competitions than anyone in the world," Dornberger said Wednesday on the sidelines of the Asian Games bowling competition in Incheon. "And it has occurred to me that the people who say we are boring have a point."

Dornberger says he has a solution. He wants to radically overhaul the very heart of the sport's complicated, but to bowlers beloved, scoring system.

What he would like to see is an arrangement similar to the soccer World Cup. That would pit players against each other in a group format culminating in finals. Scoring, possibly only in the finals, could be simplified into a frame-by-frame showdown. The player winning the frame would get one point and any player getting to six points would automatically be the winner of the game.

Another radical suggestion is to make every strike count for 30 points, no matter what the next ball is. Spares would count for 20. That would make the math a lot easier, but retain the 300 as the perfect score for a game. It's a tradition many bowlers would be very unhappy to see vanish.

"I'm open to anything because I love our sport," Dornberger said. "I love tradition, but it's vital that we become an Olympic sport. If we have to be dragged into the 21st century to do that, I'm ok with that."

At big international competitions, dozens of bowlers are playing at the same time. The winners are determined by cumulative scores, not finals. It's hard for spectators to get emotionally involved and no one knows the winners until the whole day's competition is over.

"It took 11 1/2 hours to complete the two rounds of play today," said Bill Hoffman, a five-time world champion and Hall of Fame bowler who is coaching Hong Kong's team at the Asian Games. "That is way too long."

Hoffman said the changes would likely face the most opposition from the 10 or 15 players who are at the top of the world standings. After all, the system is working for them the way it is. But he thinks major changes are required to attract spectators and sponsors and win the backing of the International Olympic Committee.

"I think we will see change," he said. "I think the industry in general knows the need for change so that we are more relevant on popular culture again."

Mike Seymour, an Australian who is the World Tenpin Bowling Association's vice president, said a working group is scheduled to make four or five proposals in December. He said top-level bowling could soon start to look more like tennis.

With each game shorter, finals could be played in a best-out-of three format. But he acknowledged that, even for supporters of the overhaul, letting go of the magical 300 is hard to imagine.

Critical thinking challenge: Is bowling boring? How will changing the scoring system make it seem more interesting, if the game remains the same?

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COMMENTS (157)
  • kr2001blue
    10/01/2014 - 08:42 a.m.

    bowling isn't always boring. its not boring when your having fun with family and friends. changing the scoring system will make it seem more interesting even if the games seems the same by people trying to get spares and strikes even more because its more points.

  • jeremiahj2
    10/01/2014 - 10:19 a.m.

    no becaue i have been playing the game of bowling for 30yrs and im amazing and thats the way it going to stay if they chang rule i would not play ever again this artical just blowed me the new rules to me was supid i spit on those rule ppuu! it discussed me just thinking about it .

  • JH2001skate
    10/01/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    I only find bowling boring when you're either losing really bad or winning by a lot. Changing the scoring system helps because now there are new ways to play which makes it more fun

  • ma2000dragonball
    10/01/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    I think bowling is boring because a lot of people aren't god at it, so therefore, they give it negative feedback. I think the scoring system will stay good with newcomers to bowling, but with us the crowd that has played bowling, I don't think it will be popular.

  • MS01bestfreind
    10/01/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    Bowling is not boring. But that is just my opinion. more interesting and the longer the game the more chance you will have of winning. I would do bowling more often!

  • WV2001TacoBelll
    10/01/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    I don't think bowling is boring when your playing with friends or something the games will be more interesting with a new scoring system but I think there should be a option to play the old way

  • GD2000marine
    10/01/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    For me I think bowling is not boring because I like playing it. Changing the scoring system will make it a little more interesting because, now you can have higher scores and different outcomes to the games.

  • evanb-Orv
    10/01/2014 - 01:16 p.m.

    Bowling can be boring when you watch it but not when you play it, like golf fun to play but boring to watch. I really didn't know that bowling had rules.

  • Kiernanm-OBr
    10/01/2014 - 01:59 p.m.

    I think bowling is fun and interesting. It may be fun to change the rules, and perhaps, it would make it little more fun. My dad and I went bowling when I lived in Portland, Oregon. It was fun bowling with my dad when I was four.

  • AlexS-May
    10/01/2014 - 02:18 p.m.

    thats really would be kinda cool but not to,because bowling is fun by itself but i dont know it might be cool if you change it a little. but it depends on how much he was planning on changing it but i guess it will be up to the them

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