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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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For the love of America, go bowling

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Norman Chad Syndicated columnist

I‘ll get straight to the point:

If more people bowled in America, we would be a stronger democracy.

While there is no hard data to support my claim, it is inarguable, incontestable and irrefutable. Bowling is the backbone of everything good for which this nation stands.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to not only being an avid recreational bowler but also to being an avid recreational viewer of bowling on TV. Actually, I TiVo bowling, because my friends at ESPN insist on showing it on Sundays, and though I love the game, I’m not going to watch the PBT instead of the NFL. So I can’t see Parker Bohn III and Mika Koivuniemi live. Which is okay, I guess, but I have to be honest with you – if you’re watching taped bowling, chances are you have all the sex appeal and social life of an automatic ball return.)

If you take two individuals with identical backgrounds, with the only difference being that one bowls and the other doesn’t, the one who doesn’t is more prone to character slips, fear and loathing, divorce, criminal activity, anger, lapses of judgment, deception, hyper-aggressive driving tendencies, irregularity and chronic tardiness.

No bowler has ever been convicted of insider trading.

Bowling is a better life. In fact, given a choice between bowling a 220 game or dating Jennifer Garner, Halle Berry and Lindsay Lohan on consecutive nights, I have six words for you, “What size shoes do you need?”

Who wouldn’t want a bowling shirt with your name on it?

I love the messenger pin. I love tripping out the 9. I love going Brooklyn.

I love that Lonnie Waliczek, during an interview with ESPN’s Randy Pedersen, said, “I’ve wanted to be a professional bowler since I was 5 years old.”

I love that during the Waliczek-Doug Kent match at the PBA Uniroyal Tire Classic at Freeway Lanes in Wickliffe, Ohio, the nation’s largest bowling center – 96 lanes! – a woman held up a sign, “Doug Kent Rocks My Socks.”

I love that I know Mark Roth won a record eight PBA titles during the 1978 season and that Walter Ray Williams Jr. is chasing the late Earl Anthony’s career mark of 41.

I love it, on a strike ball, when ESPN’s Dave Ryan says, “Ten in the pit!”

(I don’t love the constant replays. I know we’re a replay culture, but watching bowling replays are like watching rainwater trickle down a window pane. The ball rolls down the lane and the pins go down. End of story. Next thing you know, they’ll start replaying the flop in poker.)

Bowling on TV is an acquired taste, like a beet-and-goat cheese salad, but once you make that leap of viewing faith, you will never go back to the NHL and “American Idol.”

Meanwhile, everything you could possibly want is in a bowling alley. There is a bar and a grill, bubble gum machines and a water fountain, air hockey and a dollar changer, plus a game room, a trophy case and the American flag.

The other day I went bowling at my neighborhood alley, the venerable Mar Vista Lanes in Los Angeles, which, blissfully, is about a 12-minute walk from my living-room couch.

(Speaking of which, I don’t want to hear about mountain views or beachfront property or easy freeway access or good school districts or low crime rates, if you own a home or condo within walking distance of a bowling alley, you have the Real Estate Steal of the Century.)

After grousing about “AMF AccuScore” – I prefer scoring myself; it’s purer, plus I make fewer mistakes than the computer – I pursued my lifelong goal of achieving one of those high scores they post over the lanes (“Terry Nunn ‘298’ 06/30/99”).

I was done in my tough lane conditions, plus an occasional lack of skill.

I bowled a 157 – negotiating an especially tricky oil pattern – and my very special lady friend bowled a 53. We held hands walking back home, at which time I offered her a Rolling Rock and the PBT on tape.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Doesn’t the New York Yankees’ $200 million payroll next season ensure George Steinbrenner another 100 wins and a championship? (Will Hutchinson; Pittsburgh)

A. Rule No. 1 of Life: You cannot buy happiness. Rule No. 2 of Life: You cannot buy a World Series title. On the other hand, you can buy love and you can buy classic Androscoggin sheepskin slippers from Hammacher Schlemmer on-line for $59.95, plus shipping.

Q. Where were you when you first heard that Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston were splitting up? (Stacy O’Toole; Thousand Oaks, Calif.)

A. When the weekend started, I fully expected Mike Martz to run out of timeouts before the fourth quarter but I never expected Brad and Jen to break up before their fifth anniversary. I thought those two kids had a chance to make it.

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