Should The State Sport Be Changed? Just Ask Any Bowler


December 01, 1991|By Donald G. Vitek

It's not hard to find bowlers in Harford who think the state sport -- jousting -- should be changed to duckpin bowling.

Among the leaders of the campaign is Bel Air resident Kathy Williams, president of the Women's Baltimore Professional Duckpin Association and ace duckpin bowler.

"You sure don't have to buy a horse to bowl duckpins. That's morethan you can say about the current official state sport," said Williams. "Duckpin bowling started here and everyone can compete. There's a level of competition for every level of ability."

She was among the county bowlers that traveled Oct. 29 to meet with other Marylanders at the Fair Lanes Pikesville duckpin bowling center to kick off a campaign to have duckpin bowling designated the official state sport.

Dave and Lynne Heller, Belcamp residents, are other duckpin bowlers who would like to see the state sport changed.

"Sure, it shouldbe the official state sport," said Lynne, who carries a 136 average."It's accessible to everyone."

The King family also supports the effort, noting that the sport is perfect for family participation. "We're a duckpin bowling family," Dolores King said. Dolores has a 108 average; husband, Bill, carries a 120-plus and daughter Robin, 12, has a 114 average.

Meanwhile their son, Chuck, 21, is one of the finest youth duckpin bowlers in the nation.

"I can't see me and my family going jousting together or playing lacrosse together, but we canand do bowl duckpins together," said Dolores.

Maybe I'm presenting a slanted view since all the comments come from duckpin bowlers. But bear in mind that Harford County doesn't have a duckpin center. Allof the residents quoted here routinely travel many miles each month to compete.

Here's my arguments for designating duckpin bowling the state sport:

First, approximately 250,000 people statewide bowl duckpins.

And then remember that duckpin bowling started in Maryland -- unlike jousting or that other sport sometimes touted as deserving state sport status.

About the turn of the century, John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson, Baltimore Orioles International League stars atthe time, whittled down a few tenpin bowling balls and tenpins to add variety to the games offered at their establishment, Diamond Alleys. Baltimore Sun sportswriter Bill Clark coined the term "duckpin" after some bowlers commented that the flying pins resembled a flock of flying ducks.

As for jousting, it did not originate in Maryland. Itoriginated in Europe as a competition of two armored knights on horseback who would try to knock each other off their mounts using lances.

In Maryland, the sport is not practiced the way it should be. Jousters today attempt to lance a ring.

As for lacrosse, it was a sport adopted from American and Canadian Indians. It did not originate in Maryland. I mention lacrosse because a few years ago a group of lacrosse players pushed hard to get lacrosse to be the state sport. It didn't work then but they'll probably be back to try again.

Nothing against lacrosse as the state sport, but we're not going to get tooexcited about a bunch of guys named Biff and Buzzy running around inshort pants while they hack away at each other with sticks.

Can you picture yourself sitting around the fireplace on a cold December afternoon, saying to your wife, kids, and grandmother, "Let's get our lacrosse sticks, drive over to the lacrosse center and beat up on each other." Or, "Lets rent a few horses, some lances, maybe some spurs and head for the jousting center."

As for expenses, you can rent everything you need to bowl duckpins for a couple of dollars; buying the equipment you need could run $100.

Horses, however, can be a problem to rent and if you buy them you've got to feed them.

And it's very difficult to shove a couple horses in a bag, unlike duckpin balls and shoes. I didn't have any luck finding out how much it cost torent a lacrosse field and I never did find a jousting center.

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