Fans know that some sports have adapted to changes in equipment -- golf and football are prime examples. How about bowling? Zach Berman from The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., wrote last week about professional bowlers bringing up to eight balls to the US Open tournament in North Brunswick, N.J. "In the last 20 years, bowling balls evolved from rubber to polyester to urethane to reactive resins, with current technology that can control the amount of chemical friction a ball creates on the lane" Berman wrote in his story, "Competitors deploy a dizzying array of bowling balls at U.S. Open." He quotes John Petraglia, a former bowler who now works for ball maker Brunswick: "You need a different ball, a different layout, a different surface on the ball for every condition you bowl on, almost every game now. A typical bowler will go through 80 to 100 balls a year now. Relate the bowling ball to NASCAR tires." Unlike golf, which has resisted some equipment-related changes in the name of tradition, bowling has pretty much embraced this evolution ... with one exception. The Professional Bowlers Association still gives a nod to "traditional materials" in the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship, scheduled to run from March 2-6 in Cheektowaga, N.Y. In this tournament, all the players must use identical "throwback" polyester balls, like the ones that PBA Hall of Famer Mark Roth used back in the 1970s. "The concept behind the plastic ball tournament is to put a premium on knowledge of changing lane conditions, subtle adjustments in hand positions and delivery techniques, and other skills rather than relying on advanced bowling ball technology," according to the PBA. I'm aware that advances in bowling ball technology have resulted in much higher scores on all levels -- but I'm afraid that I wouldn't know the difference between the proper way to throw a polyester ball and a polyurethane ball.
Plastics have changed bowling
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