Like most people, you’ve probably enjoyed a game of bowling once or even many times. However, you might not know about its amazing history and surprising origins. Here are some interesting facts about bowling you can share with friends and family the next time you head out to the lanes!
1) The first indoor bowling lanes were built in New York City in 1840. By the end of the 1800s there were more than 200 bowling alleys just in New York City.
2) With 114 lanes the Inazawa Grand Bowl in Japan is the largest bowling center in the world.
3) Of all sports in America, bowling has the highest participation.
4) Bowling balls used to be made from wood until the early 1900s. Today, they’re made using polyester or plastic.
5) The machine at the end of the lane is called a “pinsetter” and was named after the original people who used to manually reset the pins, clear fallen pins and return the ball to the player.
6) By tradition, bowling lanes are constructed using exactly 39 strips of wood with sugar maple and pine as the traditional wood choice.
7) The modern form of bowling began in Germany around 300 AD as a religious ritual to absolve people of their sins.
8) Bowling lanes were built in the West Wing of the White House as a birthday gift to President Truman. Nixon would later add more lanes since he and his wife loved to bowl.
9) Bowling uses ten pins today but began with nine pins. The tenth pin was added since the nine-pin game was outlawed due to its link to gambling. The nine-pin game is still banned in all states except Texas.
10) In order to keep his troops focused on archery, King Edward III outlawed bowling in 1366.
11) Bowling balls can officially have up to 12 holes so long as each hole has a use.
12) A British anthropologist, Sir Flinders Petrie, found objects in an Egyptian grave belonging to a child that appear to be an early form of bowling. If his theory is correct, then bowling dates to 3200 BC. Bowling also has origins in ancient Rome and Greece.
“That's the first thing they teach you in bowling, by the way. Don't press the ball against your nose. The other one is don't lick the pins."
— David Letterman