Grace College Adds Bowling

Bowling

I don’t know why I was attracted to this story in a local Indiana newspaper. Perhaps it was because I recently taught this text. Whatever the case, I think it’s cool that Grace College, a Christian college in Winona Lake, Indiana, now has a bowling team!  Congrats!

Here is the press release:

WINONA LAKE – Grace College is pleased to announce the addition of men’s and women’s bowling to the sports lineup.

Bowling will remain a club sport for the first year with an eye to progress toward varsity status in 2021.

Grace’s Director of Athletics Chad Briscoe also announced the hiring of the program’s first full-time head coach, Rob McDonald, who will direct the men’s and women’s programs.

McDonald is a mainstay in the area for bowling. He has helped coach at Warsaw since 2013, including serving as the head coach of the girls’ team since 2015.

“We look forward to Coach McDonald leading our bowling programs at Grace. He has a tremendous passion for Christian excellence and desire to impact lives through bowling,” Briscoe said. “His experience and extensive background coaching a successful high school program will serve him well as he recruits and establishes the culture of our program.”

While coaching the Tigers, McDonald has led Warsaw to two sectional championships and a conference title in 2013-14. The Tigers have reached the semi-state level twice (2013-14, 2016-17).

On an individual level, McDonald has proven to guide student-athletes to state-wide success. During each of the past five seasons, a Tiger has qualified for semi-state, including two bowlers in 2016-17.

“I am excited for this opportunity, not only to help Grace enter the bowling realm, but even more to help spread God’s love through the sport of bowling. I am humbled by the opportunity to share my knowledge of the sport,” McDonald said. “This is an exciting new chapter in my career as a bowling coach, and I am proud to be taking this step with Grace College.”

Grace is poised to become the fifth Crossroads League school to add varsity bowling. The sport is one of the fastest-growing in the country.

Bowling was recognized as an NAIA championships sport for the first time in 2019-20. There are currently over 100 men’s and women’s teams competing at the NAIA level.

It marks the second sport Grace has added recently, joining the newly-launched esports program led by Andrew Palladino.

The Unraveling of White Working-Class America

grandpa

My maternal grandfather, a milkman, died 21 years ago today.

Over at The Wall Street Journal, journalists Bob Davis and Gary Fields have written a very interesting piece about the decline of working-class community in Reading, Pennsylvania. It is titled “In Places With Fraying Social Fabric, a Political Backlash Arises.”  This piece needs to be read alongside the Jedidiah Purdy piece that we posted on last week.  Populist voters are not just hillbillies and tea partiers, they are also members of the white ethnic working class–the children and grandchildren of immigrants who arrived in this country in the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century.

Davis and Fields argue that “Donald Trump gets strong support where churches, civic groups and safety nets are in trouble.”  It is yet another version of the argument Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam made in his 2000 book Bowling Alone.

Here is a taste:

The buckling of social institutions fundamental to American civic life is deepening a sense of pessimism and disorientation, while adding fuel to this year’s rise of political populists like Donald Trump  and Bernie Sanders.

Here and across the U.S., key measures of civic engagement ranging from church attendance to civic-group membership to bowling-league participation to union activity are slipping. Unlocked doors have given way to anxiety about strangers. In Reading, tension between longtime white residents and Hispanic newcomers has added to the unease.

Read the entire piece here.

This makes perfect sense to me, although I can only speak anecdotally. I grew up in white working class America.  I am the son of a general contractor and a housewife.  I am the grandson of a milkman and a Teamster.  My extended family are (or were) plumbers, carpenters, police officers, linemen, mechanics, tavern-owners, beer distributors, backhoe operators, secretaries, and housewives.  My mother’s side of the family built our local volunteer fire company. Somewhere in my parents’ house is a box of bowling trophies I earned from the Saturday morning leagues I participated in as a kid.  We spent our Labor Days, Memorial Days, and July 4ths with one another–throwing horseshoes, playing softball, swimming in an above-ground pool, solving the problems of the world over hot dogs and beer, and going to parades and town carnivals that featured ferris wheels and other rides mounted on trucks.

It was a good childhood, although I now know that my parents shielded me, my brothers, and my sister from the hardships.  It was also a pretty white upbringing.  I think there were one or two African Americans in my graduating class.  I don’t remember any Latino classmates.  My elders were suspicious of newcomers who did not look like us. As a young boy this attitude was hard to ignore.  The real divisions in my community were class-based.  I lived in the older, more working-class part of town.  The other side of town was decidedly upper-middle class and professional.

The world of my childhood no longer exists.  Sure, some of my family still live in the North Jersey town where I grew up, but they will be the first to tell you that it is a very different place.  The working class community of my youth has been replaced by new housing developments–lots of so-called McMansions–filled with white collar immigrants from non-western countries.  (This is largely because the school system in my home town remains very strong).  The small Cape Cods and split-levels that still dot the landscape look like they are remnants of some strange universe that existed long ago.  Most of my extended family is gone.  My grandparents’ generation–the generation that helped build this town–has passed away.  Some of my parents’ generation is still around, but others have retired and moved elsewhere.  They probably feel the loss harder than anyone.

Most of my extended family–especially my parents and their siblings, siblings-in-laws, and friends are probably going to pull the lever for Trump in November for the same reasons that the people in Reading, Pennsylvania will be voting for Trump.  Some really like Trump.  Others are voting for him because they hate Hillary and especially hate Obama.  Many of them are Christians and thus believe that a vote for Trump will help them bring back (through Supreme Court nominations) the morality of the Christian nation that has been lost.  Or at least this is what they are told by their favorite conservative talk radio hosts.  But a vote for Trump, they believe, will also bring back jobs and in some small way restore the sense of community that they have lost.

The Golden Age of Bowling

Earl Anthony

I used to do a lot of bowling as a kid.  I think I bowled my highest game in 7th grade–a 223. Somewhere at my parents’ house in New Jersey is a box of (mostly broken) bowling trophies.  I even owned a bowling ball.  During the 1970s it seemed like everyone bowled.  (No one was “Bowling Alone.”) The parking lot at Boonton Lanes was always packed on Saturday mornings and weekday nights.  It was not until I grew older that I realized that it was mostly a working class leisure sport.

I also used to watch a lot of bowling on television.  Every Saturday I would see bowlers like Earl Anthony (my favorite), Larry Laub, Mark Roth, and Marshall Holman compete for prize money.  Chris Schenkel and Nelson Burton Jr. would call the tournaments in their yellow sport jackets with the ABC patch. They would spend the entire telecast whispering.  My grandfather on my mother’s side was a die-hard bowler.  Every Saturday afternoon he would be riveted to the television.

A blog called Priceonomics is running a fabulous post called “The Rise and Fall of Professional Bowling.”  It brought back a lot of memories.  Here is a taste:

There was a time when professional bowlers reigned supreme. 
In the “golden era” of the 1960s and 70s, they made twice as much money as NFL stars, signed million dollar contracts, and were heralded as international celebrities. After each match, they’d be flanked by beautiful women who’d seen them bowl on television, or had read about them in Sports Illustrated. 
Today, the glitz and glamour has faded. Pro bowlers supplement their careers with second jobs, like delivering sod, or working at a call center. They share Motel 6 rooms on tour to save on travel expenses, and thrive on the less-than-exciting dime of beef jerky sponsorships.
Once sexy, bowling is now synonymous with cheap beer and smelly feet. In an entertainment-saturated culture, has the once formidable sport been gutter-balled? What exactly is it like to be a professional bowler today?